International Journal of Earth Sciences

, Volume 106, Issue 7, pp 2259–2278 | Cite as

Quartz preferred orientation in naturally deformed mylonitic rocks (Montalto shear zone–Italy): a comparison of results by different techniques, their advantages and limitations

  • Eugenio Fazio
  • Rosalda Punturo
  • Rosolino Cirrincione
  • Hartmut Kern
  • Antonino Pezzino
  • Hans-Rudolf Wenk
  • Shalini Goswami
  • Manish A. Mamtani
Original Paper


In the geologic record, the quartz c-axis patterns are widely adopted in the investigation of crystallographic preferred orientations (CPO) of naturally deformed rocks. To this aim, in the present work, four different methods for measuring quartz c-axis orientations in naturally sheared rocks were applied and compared: the classical universal stage technique, the computer-integrated polarization microscopy method (CIP), the time-of-flight (TOF) neutron diffraction analysis , and the electron backscatter diffraction (EBSD). Microstructural analysis and CPO patterns of quartz, together with the ones obtained for feldspars and micas in mylonitic granitoid rocks, have been then considered to solve structural and geological questions related to the Montalto crustal scale shear zone (Calabria, southern Italy). Results obtained by applying the different techniques are discussed, and the advantages as well as limitations of each method are highlighted. Importantly, our findings suggest that patterns obtained by means of different techniques are quite similar. In particular, for such mylonites, a subsimple shear (40% simple shear vs 60% pure shear) by shape analysis of porphyroclasts was inferred. A general tendency of an asymmetric c-maximum near to the Z direction (normal to foliation) suggesting dominant basal slip, consistent with fabric patterns related to dynamically recrystallization under greenschist facies, is recognized. Rhombohedral slip was likely active as documented by pole figures of positive and negative rhombs (TOF), which reveal also potential mechanical Dauphiné twinning. Results showed that the most complete CPO characterization on deformed rocks is given by the TOF (from which also other quartz crystallographic axes can be obtained as well as various mineral phases may be investigated). However, this use is restricted by the fact that (a) there are very few TOF facilities around the world and (b) there is loss of any domainal reference, since TOF is a bulk type analysis. EBSD is a widely used technique, which allows an excellent microstructural control of the user covering a good amount of investigated grains. CIP and US are not expensive techniques with respect the other kind of investigations and even if they might be considered obsolete and/or time-consuming, they have the advantage to provide a fine and grain by grain “first round” inspection on the investigated rock fabric.


Rock fabric Crystallographic preferred orientation (CPO) Quartz Mylonite Time-of-flight neutron diffraction (TOF) Electron backscatter diffraction (EBSD) 



The authors are grateful to Renée Heilbronner for stimulating discussion made in the field and for helpful suggestions during image acquisition in Basel and subsequent notes. Authors also acknowledge with gratitude Kurt Mengel for EMPA analyses and for providing the Petmix facilities. We really appreciated suggestions by Richard Law, who significantly contributed to improve the clarity of an earlier version of the manuscript. Constructive review by Ali Faghih and fruitful suggestions of the Associate Editor Soumyajit Mukherjee was really appreciated. We also thank critical review by an anonymous reviewer. HRW acknowledges access to the neutron scattering facilities of LANSCE at Los Alamos National Laboratory and help from Sven Vogel with data collections. He also is grateful for support from NSF (EAR-1343908) and DOE (DE- FG02-05ER15637). MAM acknowledges support provided by Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Kharagpur (India), for carrying out EBSD analysis at its Central Research Facility (CRF) as a part of SG’s MSc thesis work. Niloy Bhowmik of CRF (IIT Kharagpur) is thanked for helping with the EBSD analysis.

Supplementary material

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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Biological, Geological and Environmental SciencesCatania UniversityCataniaItaly
  2. 2.Institute of GeosciencesCAU University of KielKielGermany
  3. 3.Department of Earth and Planetary ScienceUniversity of CaliforniaBerkeleyUSA
  4. 4.Department of Geology and GeophysicsIndian Institute of TechnologyKharagpurIndia

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