Three‐dimensional texture of natural pseudotachylyte: Pseudotachylyte formation mechanism in hydrous accretionary complex
Melt‐origin pseudotachylyte is the most reliable seismogenic fault rock. It is commonly believed that pseudotachylyte generation is rare in the plate subduction zone where interstitial fluids are abundant and can trigger dynamic fault‐weakening mechanisms such as thermal pressurization. Some recent studies, however, have discovered pseudotachylyte‐bearing faults in exhumed ancient accretionary complexes, indicating that frictional melting also occurrs during earthquakes in subduction zones. To clarify the pseudotachylyte generation mechanism and the variation of slip behavior in the plate subduction zone, a pseudotachylyte found in the exhumed fossil accretionary complex (the Shimanto Belt, Nobeoka, Japan) was re‐focused and microscopic and three‐dimensional observations of the pseudotachylyte‐bearing fault were performed based on optical, electron, and X‐ray microscope images. Based on the patterns contained in the fragment, the pseudotachylyte is divided into four domains, although no clear domain boundaries or layering structures are not found. Three‐dimensional observation also suggests that the pseudotachylyte were fragmented or isolated by cataclasite or carbonate breccia. The pseudotachylyte was rather injected into the surrounding carbonate breccia, which is composed of angular fragments of the host rock and a matrix of tiny crystalline carbonate. The pseudotachylyte volume was extracted from the X‐ray microscope image and the heat abundance consumed by the pseudotachylyte generation was estimated at 2.18 MJ/m2, which can be supplied during a slip of approximately 0.5 m. These observations and calculations, together with the results of the previous investigations, suggest hydrofracturing and rapid carbonate precipitation that preceded or accompanied the frictional melting. Dynamic hydrofracturing during a slip can be caused by rapid fluid pressurization, and can induce abrupt decrease in fluid pressure while drastically enhancing the shear strength of the shear zone. Consequently, frictional heating would be reactivated and generate the pseudotachylyte. These deformation processes can explain pseudotachylyte generation in hydrous faults with the impermeable wall rock.