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Mechanical energy balance and apparent fracture toughness for dykes in elastoplastic host rock with large-scale yielding
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Science and Technology, Earth Sciences, Department of Earth Sciences, Geophysics.
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Science and Technology, Earth Sciences, Department of Earth Sciences, Geophysics.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-4005-9990
2019 (English)In: Geophysical Journal International, ISSN 0956-540X, E-ISSN 1365-246X, Vol. 219, no 3, p. 1786-1804Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The dynamics of dyke emplacement are typically modelled by assuming an elastic rheology for the host rock. However, the resulting stress field predicts significant shear failure in the region surrounding the dyke tip. Here, we model the dyking process in an elastic-perfectly plastic host rock in order to simulate distributed shear fracturing and subsequent frictional slip on the fracture surfaces. The fluid mechanical aspects of the magma are neglected as we are interested only in the fracture mechanics of the process. Magma overpressure in dykes is typically of the same order of magnitude as the yield stress of the host rock in shear, especially when the pressure effect of volatiles exsolving from the magma is taken into account. Under these conditions, the plastic deformation zone has spatial dimensions that approach the length of the dyke itself, and concepts based on linear elastic fracture mechanics (LEFM) no longer apply. As incremental plasticity is path dependent, we describe two geologically meaningful endmember cases, namely dyke propagation at constant driving pressure, and gradual inflation of a pre-existing crack. For both models, we find that plastic deformation surrounding the fracture tip enhances dyke opening, and thus increases the energy input into the system due to pressure work integrated over the fracture wall. At the same time, energy is dissipated by plastic deformation. Dissipation in the propagation model is greater by about an order of magnitude than it is in the inflation model because the propagating dyke tip leaves behind it a broad halo of deformation due to plastic bending and unbending in the relict process zone. The net effect is that plastic deformation impedes dyke growth in the propagation model, while it enhances dyke growth in the inflation model. The results show that, when the plastic failure zone is large, a single parameter such as fracture toughness is unable to capture the physics that underpin the resistance of a fracture or dyke against propagation. In these cases, plastic failure has to be modelled explicitly for the given conditions. We provide analytical approximations for the propagation forces and the maximum dyke aperture for the two endmember cases, that is, the propagating dyke and the dyke formed by inflation of a crack. Furthermore, we show that the effect of plasticity on dyke energetics, together with an overestimate of magma pressure when interpreting dyke aspect ratios using elastic host rock models, offers a possible explanation for the long-standing paradox that laboratory measurements of fracture toughness of rocks consistently indicate values about two orders of magnitude lower than those derived from dyke observations.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
OXFORD UNIV PRESS , 2019. Vol. 219, no 3, p. 1786-1804
Keywords [en]
Fracture and flow, Plasticity, diffusion, and creep, Numerical modelling, Physics of magma and magma bodies
National Category
Geology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-400007DOI: 10.1093/gji/ggz383ISI: 000497982800021OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-400007DiVA, id: diva2:1380799
Available from: 2019-12-19 Created: 2019-12-19 Last updated: 2019-12-19Bibliographically approved

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