Heterogeneous Subgreenschist Deformation in an Exhumed Sediment-Poor Mélange

H. Leah*, Fagereng, N. Groome, D. Buchs, A. Eijsink, A. Niemeijer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Many described subduction complexes (or mélanges) exhumed from seismogenic depths comprise thick, turbidite-dominated sequences with deformed zones containing clasts or boudins of more competent sandstone and/or basalt. In contrast, many active subduction zones have a relatively small thickness of sedimentary inputs (<2 km), turbidite sequences are commonly accreted rather than subducted, and the role of pelagic sediments and basalt (lavas and hyaloclastites) in the deforming zone near the plate interface at <20 km depth is poorly understood. Field investigation of Neoproterozoic oceanic sequences accreted in the Gwna Complex, Anglesey, UK, reveals repeated lenticular slices of variably sampled ocean plate stratigraphy (OPS) bounded by thin mélange-bearing shear zones. Mélange matrix material is derived from adjacent OPS lithologies and is either dominantly illitic, likely derived from altered siliciclastic sediment, or chloritic, likely derived from altered volcanics. In the illitic mélange, mutually cross-cutting phyllosilicate foliation and variably deformed chlorite-quartz-calcite veins suggest ductile creep was cyclically punctuated by transient, localized fluid pulses. Chlorite thermometry indicates the veins formed at 260 ± 10°C. In the chloritic mélange, recrystallized through-going calcite veins are deformed to shear strains of 4–5 within a foliated chlorite matrix, suggesting calcite veins in subducting volcanics may localize deformation in the seismogenic zone. Shear stress-strain rate curves constructed using existing empirical relationships in a simplified shear zone geometry predict that slip velocities varied depending on pore fluid pressure; models predict slow slip velocities preferentially by frictional sliding in chlorite, at pore fluid pressures greater than hydrostatic but less than lithostatic.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2022JB024353
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2022


  • Gwna
  • mechanics
  • microstructure
  • rheology
  • shear zone
  • subduction


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