Reduction of Permeability in Granite at Elevated Temperatures

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Science  09 Sep 1994:
Vol. 265, Issue 5178, pp. 1558-1561
DOI: 10.1126/science.265.5178.1558


The addition of hydrothermal fluids to heated, intact granite leads to permeability reductions in the temperature range of 300° to 500°C, with the rate of change generally increasing with increasing temperature. The addition of gouge enhances the rate of permeability reduction because of the greater reactivity of the fine material. Flow rate is initially high in a throughgoing fracture but eventually drops to the level of intact granite. These results support the fault-valve model for the development of mesothermal ore deposits, in which seals are formed at the base of the seismogenic zone of high-angle thrust faults. The lower temperature results yield varying estimates of mineral-sealing rates at shallower depths in fault zones, although they generally support the hypothesis that such seals develop in less time than the recurrence interval for moderate to large earthquakes on the San Andreas fault.