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Trepmann, Claudia A.; Hsu, Chen; Hentschel, Felix; Döhler, Katharina; Schneider, Christian; Wichmann, Veronica (2017): Recrystallization of quartz after low-temperature plasticity - The record of stress relaxation below the seismogenic zone. In: Journal of Structural Geology, Vol. 95: pp. 77-92
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Quartz microfabrics in rocks from the Silvretta basal thrust and the Defereggen-Antholz-Vals (DAV) shear zone in the Eastern Alps, are analysed by polarized light and electron microscopy. The microfabrics from both shear zones record a switch from low-temperature plasticity at transient high stress to recrystallization at relaxing stresses at greenschist fades conditions. The development of new grains is dominantly by subgrain rotation and subsequent strain-induced grain-boundary migration in areas of localized high strain developed during initial low-temperature plasticity. The findings suggest that new grains develop at almost random crystallographic orientations at fast rates of stress relaxation (i.e. at low stress), as indicated by recrystallized quartz zones in the Silvretta fault rocks. In contrast, at slow rates of stress relaxation, new grains develop at moderately high stresses with crystallographic preferred orientation characterized by high Schmid factor for basal < a > glide, as indicated by vein quartz samples from the DAV shear zone. Both recorded histories with transient peak stresses and different rates of stress relaxation are interpreted to be related to seismic activity of the fault systems. This study demonstrates that characteristic microfabrics provide important information about the deformation history of natural shear zones developed in different tectonic regimes.