pure and applied geophysics

, Volume 136, Issue 1, pp 59–86 | Cite as

Cataclasis and processes of particle size reduction

  • Tom G. Blenkinsop


The particle size distribution (P.S.D.) of fragmented geological materials is affected by the fragmentation process, initial size distribution, number of fracturing events, energy input, strain, and confining pressure. A summary of literature shows that the fractal dimension (D) of the P.S.D. is increased by the number of fracturing events, energy input, strain, and confining pressure. Cenozoic cataclasis of granite, granodiorites, gneisses and arkose seen in cores from the Cajon Pass drillhole, southern California, produced P.S.D.s with values ofD that varied from 1.88 to 3.08. Each rock type has a characteristic and more limited range ofD. Areas of dilatant texture and modeI fracture-fillings have low average values (2.32 and 2.37) compared to an average value of 2.67 in shear fracture-fillingsD has a good inverse correlation with average particle size. Data from fault rocks in the San Gabriel fault zone, southern California (Andersonet al., 1983) have been reanalyzed to show that values ofD are higher (2.10–5.52) and average particle size is lower than the Cajon Pass samples, but the ranges of values overlap, and the inverse correlation betweenD and average particle size is extended. Microstructural observations combined with these results suggest that three processes contributed to particle size reduction during cataclasis. The first process of feldspar alteration, which leads to low values ofD, has not been previously recognized. The second process is probably constrained comminution (Sammiset al., 1987), since the averageD in shear fracture-fillings is close to the value of 2.58 predicted by this theory. A further stage of particle size reduction is demonstrated by an increase ofD with cataclasis. This third process is selective fracture of larger particles, which may also operate during localization and the cataclastic flow-to-faulting transition as observed in experiments. A transition from constrained comminution to selective fracture of large particles, and increasingD values with cataclastic evolution and grain size reduction, may be general features of experimental and natural cataclasis.

Key words

Cataclasis particle size reduction fractal fracture 


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Copyright information

© Birkhäuser Verlag 1991

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tom G. Blenkinsop
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute for Crustal StudiesUniversity of CaliforniaSanta BarbaraUSA

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