Characterization of pulverized granitoids in a shallow core along the San Andreas Fault, Littlerock, CA Academic Article uri icon


  • We present results on the composition, structure and particle size distribution (PSD) of pulverized and damaged granitic rocks in a 42-m-deep core adjacent to the San Andreas Fault near Littlerock, CA. The cored section is composed of pulverized granites and granodiorites, and is cut by numerous mesoscopic secondary shears. The analysis employs XRD, XRF, thin sections and semi-automated particle size analyser methods, including a novel calibration method. The mean particle size for the majority of samples falls between 50 and 470 μm. The PSDs can be fitted by a power law, with D-values ranging between 2.5 and 3.1, as well as by a superposition of two Gaussians. Fracture surface energy calculations based on the observed particle distributions provide very low values, indicating that the part of the total earthquake energy budget expended for breaking or shattering rocks is small. Shear deformation is likely to dominate near secondary faults. The most pronounced fault-related alteration occurs along the secondary shears, and is a function of both composition and depth. The alteration to clay appears to be the result of fluid-rock interaction and brittle deformation under low temperature conditions, rather than of surface-related weathering. The particle size reduction noted in the core reflects multiple mechanisms of comminution. The zones of pulverization that lack significant weathering likely result from repeating episodes of dynamic dilation and contraction. © 2011 The Authors Geophysical Journal International © 2011 RAS.

author list (cited authors)

  • Wechsler, N., Allen, E. E., Rockwell, T. K., Girty, G., Chester, J. S., & Ben‐Zion, Y.

citation count

  • 34

publication date

  • June 2011