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Stress in the lithosphere; inferences from steady state flow of rocks

, : Stress in the lithosphere; inferences from steady state flow of rocks. Pure and Applied Geophysics 115(1-2): 199-226

Mechanical data and flow processes from steady state deformation experiments may be used to infer the state of stress in the lithosphere and asthenosphere. Extrapolations of flow equations to a representative geologic strain rate of 1014/sec. for halite, marble, quartzite, dolomite, dunite and enstatolite are now warranted because the steady state flow processes in the experiments are identical to those in rocks and because the geotherms are reasonably well established. More direct estimates are obtained from free dislocation densities, subgrain sizes and recrystallized grain sizes all of which are functions only of stress. Using the last of these techniques, we have estimated stress profiles as a function of depth from xenoliths in basalts and kimberlites, whose depths of equilibration were determined by pyroxene techniques, from four different areas of subcontinental and suboceanic upper mantle. The results are similar and indicate stress differences of about 200 to 300 bars at 40 to 50 km, decaying to a few tens of bars at depths betow 100 km. These stresses are reasonable and are in accord with extrapolations of the mechanical data provided that allowance is made for a general increase in strain rate and decrease in viscosity with depth.


DOI: 10.1007/bf01637104

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