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Pseudotachylytes : Rarely generated, rarely preserved or rarely reported?

Kirkpatrick, J. D. and Shipton, Zoe and Persano, C. (2009) Pseudotachylytes : Rarely generated, rarely preserved or rarely reported? Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America, 99 (1). pp. 382-388. ISSN 0037-1106

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Abstract

Pseudotachylyte is the only fault rock that is known to form exclusively at seismic slip rates, so it is unique in preserving direct evidence of the dynamic processes in action during earthquakes. It is commonly assumed that pseudotachylyte is rare, and debate has centered on whether it is rarely generated or commonly generated but rarely preserved. We present field and electron microscope observations of eight new pseudotachylytes from faults in the Sierra Nevada that have previously been the focus of many detailed studies of fault growth and mechanics. These pseudotachylytes range from being abundant and easy to recognize in outcrop to being impossible to identify without microscope observations. Our data show that pseudotachylytes are much more common in the Sierra Nevada than has previously been reported. We suggest that pseudotachylytes may be present within many fault zones but remain unreported primarily due to difficulty in identifying very thin or reworked pseudotachylytes in the field; and therefore the use of these fault rocks to interpret dynamic earthquake processes must be revisited.