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Earth-Science Reviews 171 (2017) 434455

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Shear zones A review MARK

a,b, c
Haakon Fossen , Geane Carolina G. Cavalcante
Department of Earth Science/Museum of Natural History, University of Bergen, Allgaten 41, N-5007 Bergen, Norway
Instituto de Geocincias, Universidade de So Paulo, Rua do Lago, 562, Cidade Universitria, So Paulo, SP CEP 05508-080, Brazil
Departmento de Geologia, Universidade Federal do Paran, Av. Cel. Francisco Herclito dos Santos, s/n, Centro Politcnico, 81531-980, Curitiba, PR CEP 81531-980,


Keywords: Strain in the lithosphere localizes into tabular zones known as shear zones that grow from small outcrop-size
Shear zones individual zones to large composite structures. Nucleation is related to distributed microscale aws or mesoscale
Kinematics structures such as fractures and dikes, and they soon establish displacement proles similar to faults. Also similar
Strain localization to faults, they grow in width and length primarily by segment linkage as they accumulate strain and displace-
ment, and this process typically results in shear zone networks. Consequently, mature shear zones are hetero-
Crustal deformation
geneous and composite zones characterized by anastomosing patterns and local variations in thickness and nite
strain. Kinematic vorticity estimates suggest that most shear zones deviate from simple shear, and even if
subsimple shear may be a useful reference model in many cases, nite strain data indicate that many shear zones
involve three-dimensional combinations of coaxial and non-coaxial deformation, such as transpression and
transtension. Strain geometry and kinematic vorticity can vary signicantly within shear zone networks, which
makes it dicult to estimate the bulk deformation type for a composite shear zone or shear zone network.
However, perhaps the most challenging aspect is that of progressive deformation, i.e. to what extent and how
ow parameters change during deformation (non-steady state deformation), which needs to be addressed by a
combination of detailed eld observations and numerical modeling.

1. Introduction during rifting (Powell and Glendinning, 1990; Butler et al., 2008; Bird
et al., 2015; Phillips et al., 2016) and are important components in the
The majority of strain accumulated in the mostly plastic or viscous context of plate tectonics (Bercovici and Ricard, 2012).
part of the lithosphere, both in the crust and the mantle (e.g., Vauchez High-strain zones have been recognized in naturally deformed rocks
et al., 2012; Snyder and Kjarsgaard, 2013), localizes into zones that since the 19th century (e.g., Reusch, 1888), and particularly since the
show large variations in orientation, length, thickness, displacement, theory of thrusting was introduced (e.g., Bertrand, 1884; Geike, 1884;
strain geometry, coaxiality, and deformation mechanisms. Such zones Trnebohm, 1888; Peach et al., 1907). However, even though strain in
typically involve a signicant component of simple shear, and are deformed rocks was discussed relatively early on (e.g., Harker, 1885),
therefore called shear zones (Ramsay and Graham, 1970; Sibson, 1977; sound and quantitative analysis of shear zones in terms of geometry,
Simpson and De Paor, 1993; Ramsay, 1980), although a component of strain and kinematics founded in mathematical analysis is relatively
coaxial deformation (e.g., pure shear) is also commonly involved new, and basic aspects of such analyses were presented in a systematic
(Ramberg, 1975a,b; Coward and Kim, 1981; Fossen and Tiko, 1993; way by Ramsay (1967) and in a series of papers in the 1970s and1980s,
Northrup, 1996). Shear zones separate less strained or unstrained notably Ramsay and Graham (1970), Ramberg (1975a,b), Coward
portions of the lithosphere, and are the deeper counterparts to upper (1976), Cobbold (1977a,b), Berth et al. (1979), Lister and Williams
crustal faults and fault zones in contractional (thrust), extensional and (1979), Mandl et al. (1977), Sibson (1977), Ramsay (1980), Cobbold
strike-slip settings alike (e.g., Sibson, 1977; Scholz, 1988; Wernicke, and Quinquis (1980), and Lister and Snoke (1984). The typical ap-
1985; Godin et al., 2006; Fossen, 2010; Ganade de Araujo et al., 2013; proach during this era was that of simple shear with or without addi-
Cottle et al., 2015). They also represent rheological and mechanical tional shortening/dilation across the shear zone. Pure shear was then
anomalies that may be reactivated or otherwise inuence the structural combined with simple shear to create more general subsimple shear
evolution during later stages or phases of deformation, for example zones, rst in the pioneering work by Ramberg (1975a,b) and later by

Corresponding author at: Department of Earth Science/Museum of Natural History, University of Bergen, Allgaten 41, N-5007 Bergen, Norway.
E-mail address: (H. Fossen).
Received 19 January 2017; Received in revised form 6 May 2017; Accepted 6 May 2017
Available online 08 May 2017
0012-8252/ 2017 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
H. Fossen, G.C.G. Cavalcante Earth-Science Reviews 171 (2017) 434455

Fig. 1. Two shear zones at micro- and mapscale. a) Shear

band in highly porous sandstone (thin section of core from
the Njord Field, oshore central Norway). Deformation oc-
curred at shallow (few hundred meters) depth under un-
consolidated conditions. b) Great Slave Lake shear zone
(Canada), showing deection of the Thelon-Taltson
Magmatic Zone (TTMZ).
Based on USGS map (2005).

Passchier (1986), Tiko and Fossen (1993), and Simpson and De Paor fabric (Figs. 1 and 2a). The geometry, orientation and relative move-
(1993), and then to combine pure and simple shear in a three-dimen- ment of the walls are the boundary conditions that control the de-
sional way, particularly in the framework of transpression and trans- formation within the zone. However, several processes may change the
tension (Sanderson and Marchini, 1984). In this work we will review boundary conditions over time, for example changes in compaction
the most useful and fundamental aspects of shear zones, their evolution caused by pressure solution and related loss of material in the zone
from incipient to large structures, and discuss challenges that need to be (thinning), strain localization where margins are left inactive (thin-
studied in the future. ning), inclusion of larger or smaller portions of wall rocks (widening),
and interaction between adjacent shear zones (widening by linkage).
2. Denition and classication Hence, terms such as widening, constant thickness and thinning shear zones
are commonly used.
A shear zone is a zone in which strain is clearly higher than in the A signicant distinction can be made between plane strain zones and
wall rock, and whose margins are dened by a change in strain, typi- non-plane strain zones, i.e. zones involving two- and three-dimensional
cally seen by rotation of preexisting markers or formation of a new strain, respectively. Plane strain implies no change in length along the

Fig. 2. a) Schematic illustration of a simple shear zone, showing strain ellipses, new-formed foliation and two marker layers assumed to behave passively. b) Shear strain prole through
the zone. c) Graph showing relationships between shear strain (horizontal axis) and the orientation of the strain ellipse and the two markers shown in (a) as well as strain (R). d) Natural
shear zone (based on photo by Giorgio Pennacchioni) from deformed granitoid rock in the Tauern Window, Italian Alps, and e) a shear strain map with three shear strain proles
estimated from foliation orientation, assuming simple shear. Displacement d is given in terms of the local shear zone thickness.

H. Fossen, G.C.G. Cavalcante Earth-Science Reviews 171 (2017) 434455

intermediate (Y) principal strain axis, and thus many aspects of plane Correspondingly, a brittle shear zone shows discontinuous deformation
strain can conveniently be dealt with by considering the plane con- where originally continuous markers are broken up by slip surfaces
taining the maximum and minimum principal strain axes (X and Z) (shear fractures) that cause discontinuities in the displacement eld
(only the rotation of preexisting line and plane markers requires 3D (Fig. 4b). A completely brittle shear zone would have undeformed
considerations in this case). Plane strain, whether simple, sub-simple or portions of rock between these slip surfaces. Ductile-brittle shear zones
pure shear, plots along the diagonal of the Flinn diagram (Flinn, 1962), contain both continuous and discontinuous deformation. In this sense,
while 3D deformations produce o-diagonal constrictional or attening drag associated with faulting creates a ductile-brittle shear zone, even if
strains. However, if volume change occurs by compaction across the the deformation mechanisms involved are purely frictional (e.g.,
shear zone in combination with a plane strain deformation (such as Homberg et al., 2017).
simple shear), the resulting plane strain will plot in the attening eld
(Ramsay and Woods, 1973). 3. From simple shear zones to zones of 3D strain
Shear zones can further be classied according to their dominant
micro-scale deformation mechanism, where plastic (or crystal-plastic) 3.1. Simple shear and the ideal (Ramsay-type) shear zone
shear zones, also referred to as viscous shear zones, are dominated by
crystal-plastic mechanisms (dislocation creep and twinning) and diu- The ideal shear zone involves simple shear with or without addi-
sion, while frictional or brittle shear zones are dominated by brittle de- tional compaction or dilation perpendicular to the zone (Ramsay, 1980)
formation mechanisms (grain fracture, frictional sliding and grain ro- (compactional simple shear in Fig. 6). Ideal simple shear zones are easy
tation). Brittle shear zones are generally known by other names, such as to deal with, as they have parallel planar walls and show simple rela-
faults, fault zones or fault cores, and involve episodic seismic activity tions between displacement, strain and fabrics. If we place an x-y-z
rather than the aseismic creep that characterizes strain accumulation in coordinate system with z perpendicular to the shear zone and x along
plastic shear zones (Rutter et al., 2001). However, many shear zones the shear direction (Fig. 2a), then the simple shear deformation in-
contain components of both plastic and brittle (frictional) deformation volved is conveniently expressed by the deformation matrix or de-
mechanisms, and if the brittle component is signicant, terms such as formation tensor
brittle-plastic (Rutter, 1986), frictional-plastic, brittle-viscous (e.g.,
Fusseis and Handy, 2008) or frictional-viscous shear zones (e.g., Stipp D=
et al., 2002) may be appropriate. 0 1 (1)
Crystal-plasticity is controlled by mineralogy, temperature and This matrix transforms any point or vector to its new post-de-
pressure, and further by the presence of uids, strain rate and grain formational position by the linear transformation (homogeneous strain)
size. Salt develops shear zones even at wet surface conditions, marbles
at somewhat deeper crustal conditions, quartzites from close to 300 C x = 1 x
(Stipp et al., 2002), and feldsphatic rocks above ~450 C (e.g., Sibson, z 0 1 z (2)
1977; Scholz, 1988). Hence, the complete transition from truly brittle The y-component remains constant for this transformation, meaning
(frictional) to completely plastic shear zones can be wide. For con- that there is no shortening or stretching of any line exactly parallel to
tinental rocks rich in quartz and feldspar, the transition stretches from the y-axis of the coordinate system. The full 3 3 matrix is
300 to 450 C, as typically expressed by fractured feldspar in a matrix of
recrystallized quartz deformed by dislocation creep (e.g., Tullis et al., 1 0
D = 0 1 0
1982; Viegas et al., 2016). Because large shear zones or shear zone
0 0 1
systems can transect the entire crust and in some cases even the entire
lithosphere (e.g., Vauchez et al., 2012; Tiko et al., 2013), they may, at The matrix product DDT gives the matrix (known as the left Cauchy-
dierent depths, show the full range of microstructural or rheological Green tensor, or Finger tensor; Malvern, 1969, p.158, 174) whose ei-
regimes or facies, as indicated in Fig. 3. Furthermore, many large genvectors represent the orientations of the principal strain axes, and
high-grade crustal shear zones show evidence of later reactivation by whose eigenvalues correspond to their lengths (Flinn, 1979). D and DDT
lower grade mylonitization and eventually brittle faulting during ex- can be used to calculate the rotation of lines and planes, the change in
humation. length of lines, the orientation and magnitude of strain, and strain
Finally, shear zones can be classied as ductile or brittle. These terms geometry (shape of the strain ellipsoid) (see Appendix A in Fossen,
are being used in dierent ways by dierent parts of the structural 2016). This holds for any homogeneous deformation, not only for
geology community. Some restrict the use of the term ductile to simple shear.
temperature-dependent crystal-plastic deformation (Twiss and Moores, The most fundamental equations for perfect simple shear deforma-
2007), i.e. equivalent to the term plastic deformation described above. tion relate shear strain () to the length and orientation () of the long
However, as pointed out by Rutter (1986), an alternative and more (X) axis of the strain ellipse, as reected by the trace of the new-formed
descriptive denition considers ductile deformation as deformation foliation, and the change in orientation of passive planar markers (
where no macroscopic fracture is involved, i.e. deformation that pre- , where is the angle that the marker initially makes with the shear
serves continuity of preexisting markers (e.g., Byerlee, 1968; Park, plane):
1997; van der Pluijm and Marshak, 2004; Paterson and Wong, 2005;
= 2 tan(2), or = 0.5tan1 (2 ) (4)
Fossen, 2016). This implies that ductile shear zones show a continuous
displacement gradient across the zone (Fig. 4a), while brittle shear cot = cot + (5)
zones show displacement discontinuities (Fig. 4b). Hence, ductile and
brittle deformation are also referred to as continuous and discontinuous (see Fig. 2 for a closer explanation).
deformation, respectively. For compactional simple shear (Fig. 6), these relations change, de-
The denition of ductile presented here is independent of de- pending on the amount of dilation (negative compaction) :
formation mechanism (Rutter, 1986), and is particularly used within
the elds of petroleum geology and experimental deformation of porous 1
D = ln(1 + )
rocks (e.g., Wong and Baud, 2012; Homberg et al., 2017). All plastic 0 1 + (6)
shear zones are ductile, but not all ductile shear zones are plastic. In
particular, sediments and sedimentary rocks can develop ductile shear 2(1 + )
tan 2 =
zones in which the grain-scale deformation is purely frictional (Fig. 5g). 1 + 2 (1 + )2 (7)

H. Fossen, G.C.G. Cavalcante Earth-Science Reviews 171 (2017) 434455

Fig. 3. a) Simplied diagram illustrating vertical variations in shear zones and shear zone fabrics (facies). The brittle-plastic transitions for quartz and feldspar and dominant
recrystallization mechanisms (bulging, subgrain rotation and grain-boundary migration) are related to temperature, but also depend on strain rate and the amount of uids present. bd)
Illustration of characteristic microfabrics in the three dierent regimes: b) brittle fracturing (brittle mechanisms); c) plastic with brittle feldspar (central grain) and small recrystallized
quartz grains (dislocation creep); d) high-temperature recrystallization in the lower domain where both feldspar and quartz behave plastically and grain-boundary migration by diusion
is important.

strain may participate into shear bands separating back-rotated folia-

tion domains, and complicating structures such as intrafolial folds may
develop due to ow perturbations and variations in ow rate (Cobbold
and Quinquis, 1980; Platt, 1983; Vollmer, 1988; Carreras et al., 2013).

3.2. General plane strain zones

It can be demonstrated that many shear zones are not simple shear,
but involve an additional coaxial component. The deformation is still
plane, provided that the pure and simple shear act in the same plane.
Indications of non-simple shear include: 1) non-planar shear zone walls;
2) non-parallel shear-strain contours (Fig. 2e); 3) initial foliation at
margins signicantly dierent from 45; 4) associated veins originating
at an angle 45 to the shear zone (Fig. 7); 5) deected markers not
obeying the relationship shown in Fig. 2c ( curves); 6) a relationship
between strain (R) and foliation deviating from the simple shear curve
shown in Fig. 7 ( curve); 7) porphyroclasts showing conicting sense
of rotation; 8) sets of dierently oriented shear bands showing opposite
senses of shear.
Fig. 4. Shear zone end members based on (dis)continuity of markers, displacement eld In terms of progressive deformation or ow, non-simple shear zones
and strain gradient. a) Continuous or ductile deformation, where displacement and strain dier from simple shear zones in terms of coaxiality, which is described
varies gradually through the zone. b) Perfect discontinuous or brittle end member where
by the kinematic vorticity number Wk. Wk describes the relationship
the displacement gradient is discontinuous. This end-member corresponds to a shear
between the rotation and the change in shape of the strain ellipsoid. It is
an instantaneous ow parameter, but for steady-state ow we can de-
cot + ne Wk for an increment or the entire period of deformation, and thus
cot = relate Wk to simple and coaxial strain components (Tiko and Fossen,
1+ (8)
1993). Hence, for plane strain deformation, Wk can be expressed in
These relations are most easily applied to naturally deformed rocks terms of the amounts of pure (kx and kz) and simple shear ():
for low to moderate strains. Once strain in a shear zone gets high, say Wk = cos[arctan(ln(kx k z) )] (9)
> 5, angles start to become dicult to measure (Ramsay, 1980). In
addition, the foliation tends to deect around heterogeneities, and where kx and kz are the stretches along the x and z coordinate axes,

H. Fossen, G.C.G. Cavalcante Earth-Science Reviews 171 (2017) 434455

Fig. 5. a) Fracture with selective eclogitization around the fracture, related to the inltration of uids into the dry granulitic host rock along the fracture. b) Example of more advanced
stage of (a), where a shear zone is established with a slightly wider alteration zone of eclogite. c) Lens of granulite enveloped by sheared rocks (eclogite). ac represent three stages of
shear zone development from the Caledonian Linds Nappe near Bergen, Norway. d) Asymmetric structure extracted from mylonitic gneiss of the Nordfjord-Sogn Detachment Zone,
Norway, formed by sinistral sense of shear. e) S-C structures in sheared granite from the Armorican Shear Zone, France. f) Shear zone developed on large vein, which is now converted into
an ultramylonitic shear zone core. Caledonian Jotun Nappe, Norway. g) cm-scale ductile shear zone in the Aztec Sandstone, Nevada, where lamination can be traced continuously through
the shear zone.

(straight ow lines) that subdivide the particle paths into ow com-

partments (Passchier and Trouw, 2005),
Wk = cos (10)

where is the angle between the two ow apophyses (Fig. 8c). Note
that this relationship only holds for plane strain. Similarly, if the or-
ientation of the maximum instantaneous stretching axis ISA1 is
known, for example from the initial orientation of the foliation along
the margins of a shear zone or vein systems (Fig. 8),

Wk = sin 2 (11)

The general plane strain deformation matrix is

(kx kz)
kx ln(kx kz)
D= =0 k

0 kz (12)

where, for constant volume, kz = 1/kx.

Fig. 6. Pure shear deformation expressed in a triangular diagram with pure shear, simple While Wk = 1 for perfect simple shear zones, it appears to be lower
shear and orthogonal compaction as end members. (1 > Wk > 0) for most natural shear zones, and this deviation is ty-
pically explained by subsimple shear. Subsimple shear is a spectrum of
respectively. Note that for non-steady ow (Wk changing during de- deformations between simple and pure shear, and typical values of Wk
formation), this Wk will represent an average value for the interval in estimated from natural shear zones range from 0.6 to 1 (e.g., Thigpen
question. In terms of the two ow apophyses, i.e. the xed directions et al., 2010a,b; Law et al., 2004; Zhang and Teyssier, 2013), although
values close to 0 have been reported (Holcombe and Little, 2001)

H. Fossen, G.C.G. Cavalcante Earth-Science Reviews 171 (2017) 434455

(a) ISA 1

80 0.2




90 3
Wk=cos = cos(90-2)
40 80


Degrees (, )
30 Thickening
shear zones
Wk=1 (simple

shear) 60

0.9 shear zones 50
0.6 0.7
0.5 1
10 0.4 40 2
0 2.0 4.0 6.0 8.0 10

Fig. 7. Relationship between the angle between the orientation of the trace of the strain

XZ plane (foliation) () and the shear direction for dierent kinds of subsimple shear. 10
Values along the vertical axis represent the initial orientation ().
01 3
1.0 0.9 0.8 0.7 0.6 0.5 04 0.3 0.2 0.1 0.0
(Fig. 9). The consequence of having a pure shear component within the Pure
shear zone is that the shear zone material is extruded in the x direction. shear Wk shear
However, if the pure shear component also aects the shear zone walls (c)
while the shear zone component does not, the eect is that both the 1 Wk=0 2 Wk=0.75 3 Wk=1
walls and the shear zone lengthen during deformation. This situation
corresponds in principle to the concept of stretching faults of Means = =90
(1989, 1990), except that the stretching fault is replaced by a subsimple =0
shear zone, forming a stretching shear zone. There are many dierent
cases of stretching shear zones, depending on the coaxiality of the shear
zone and the nature of the boundaries to its wall rock, but Fig. 10 shows (d) ISA 3
the principle for the case of conservation of continuity (completely ISA 1 ISA 1
ductile case; Fig. 10b) and a ductile-brittle case where a stretching fault ISA 1
occurs between an undeformed lower wall and the stretching shear
zone (Fig. 10c). The concept of stretching shear zones has been applied ISA 3
= 45 = 24 =0
to spreading nappes and large-scale midcrustal ow during orogeny
(e.g., Northrup, 1996; Law et al., 2004; Godin et al., 2006). Fig. 8. a) The orientation of the ISA (Instantaneous stretching axes) in a shear zone with
It should be noted that compactional simple shear (Fig. 6), dened by progressive vein formation. b) The orientations of and for various Wk values. c) The
the matrix particle paths and orientations of ow apophyses () illustrated for three cases of plane
strain. d) Illustration of the orientations of the ISA for the same cases. Fields of in-
1 1 stantaneous extension are shown in black, while those of instantaneous contraction are
D= = shown in white.
0 kz 0 1 + (13)

also produces Wk values dierent from 1, and can be estimated if both closer to 1 for higher shear strains. Hence, the eect of compaction on
shear strain () and dilation () are known (note that compaction is Wk is small in most high-strain zones.
negative dilation):
3.3. 3D strain zones
Wk =
2 ln(1 + )2 + 2 (14)
Fabric and strain estimates from many shear zones show deviations
Hence, if compaction is signicant, its eect on Wk, strain and fabric from not only simple shear but also plane strain in general (e.g.,
should be considered. In most shear zones in magmatic and meta- Hossack, 1968; Hageskov, 1985; Bhattacharyya and Hudleston, 2001;
morphic rocks (excluding slates and phyllites), compaction is limited, Wells, 2001; Vitale and Mazzoli, 2009, 2010). This is shown in Fig. 11,
and so is its eect on Wk. For example, if compaction generates a 20% where strain data from a variety of shear zone worldwide have been
reduction in thickness (i.e., = 0.2 and 1 + = 0.8) over a shear compiled. Hence, for some shear zones strain must be treated in 3D. 3D
strain of 2, the kinematic vorticity number Wk = 0.988, and gets even strain situations can be complex, and a general treatment of this subject

H. Fossen, G.C.G. Cavalcante Earth-Science Reviews 171 (2017) 434455


No strain

1 2 3 4 5 6

Pure shear

shear zone
Pure shear (Wk=0.82)

1 2 3 4 5 6

1 Stretching
Stretching fault shear zone
No strain (Wk=0.82)

1 2 3 4 5 6
Fig. 10. Schematic illustration of the concept of stretching fault and stretching shear
zone. A grid with a crossing marker (a) is deformed so that the upper and lower layers
(walls) deform by pure shear, and the middle layer (shear zone) by subsimple shear
(Wk = 0.82 in this example) (b). In b), strain compatibility is preserved, and there is no
Fig. 9. Statistical distribution of Wk estimates from a variety of sources, showing that discrete oset (the deformation is ductile). In c) the lower wall remains undeformed so
that a stretching fault develops between the lower and middle layer. Note how the dis-
even though simple shear deformation is recorded, subsimple shear with Wk close to 0.7
placement along this fault increases rapidly to the right.
appears to be more common. Data from Bailey et al. (1994), Klepeis et al. (1999), Wallis
(1992), Holcombe and Little (2001), Law et al. (2004, 2010), Xypolias and Kokklas
(2006), Thigpen et al. (2010a,b), and Zhang and Teyssier (2013). In terms of strain, transpression/transtension develops non-plane
strain that, for the Sanderson and Marchini model, is constrictional for
is not possible here. However, a type of 3D deformation that has been transtension and attening for transpression. Furthermore, constant Wk
receiving much attention over the last decades is transpression/trans- transpression/transtension generates paths within the Flinn diagram
tension, particularly since Sanderson and Marchini (1984) outlined a where the strain geometry (Flinn k-value, or degree of constriction or
simple model that formed the basis for more in-depth exploration of this attening) changes during deformation. L or L > S tectonites char-
spectrum of deformation (e.g., Fossen and Tiko, 1993; Robin and acterize transtension, with the lineation being oblique to the shear di-
Cruden, 1994; Tiko and Teyssier, 1994; Jones and Tanner, 1995; rection. In contrast to simple shear, the stretching lineation evolving
Jones et al., 2004). The model is typically portrayed in the context of a during transtension will not rotate toward parallelism with the shear
vertical shear zone, but is equally applicable to shear zones with other direction, but toward the ow apophysis that is oblique to the shear
orientations, such as the horizontal shear zone portrayed in Fig. 12c, direction by an angle . This angle also relates to Wk through Eq. (10),
provided that the pure shear component acts orthogonal to the shear or to the simple and pure shear components through the equation
The Sanderson and Marchini model involves an orthogonal combi- = tan1 [(ln k) ] (15)
nation of simple and pure shear, as opposed to the case of subsimple
shear (Fig. 12b) where the two components are applied in the same where k is the coaxial strain factor across the zone (> 1 for transten-
plane. This produces strain along all three principal strain axes; trans- sion).
pression if the pure shear component causes the zone to thin, and The lineation is less pronounced in the case of transpression, which
transtension if the zone thickens. The model, in its simplest form, is one produces S > L or S-tectonites and strains in the lower part of the Flinn
of homogeneous deformation between discontinuous boundaries, but diagram. However, the stretching lineation and the major principal
the deforming volume can be subdivided into several smaller volumes strain axis X are perpendicular to the shear direction and parallel to the
of homogeneous deformation (3 tabular volumes shown in Fig. 12c) or shear zone for Wk < 0.81, while for higher values of Wk it is generally
even treated in terms of continuous deformation (Robin and Cruden, oblique to the shear direction and the shear zone. In the latter case X
1994). More general models can be constructed (Jones et al., 2004; and Y may change positions for Wk close to 0.81, but the lineation is
Fossen and Tiko, 1998), for instance with the simple shear plane being very weak in such cases.
inclined with respect to the pure shear axes (Jones and Holdsworth, A model (Fig. 12d) where general attening rather than 2D pure
1998) (triclinic transpression), but many fundamental aspects of shear is combined with simple shear has also been suggested (e.g., Baird
transpression and transtension in terms of strain and fabric develop- and Hudleston, 2007), and represents a spectrum of deformation be-
ment are captured by the much simpler Sanderson and Marchini (1984) tween the Sanderson and Marchini transpression model and subsimple
model, which is emphasized here. shear. An application of this model can be found in the context of
shearing during gravity collapse (e.g., Merle, 1989).

H. Fossen, G.C.G. Cavalcante Earth-Science Reviews 171 (2017) 434455

100 Fig. 11. Strain data from shear zones from a range of dierent set-
tings and lithologies, plotted in the Flinn diagram, showing that
strain in general is non-plane. Data from Hossack (1968), Kligeld
et al. (1981), Simpson (1981), Choukroune and Gapais (1983),
Davidson (1983), Lisle (1984), Gapais et al. (1987), James et al.
(1989), Bailey et al. (1994), Bhattacharyya (2000), Wells (2001),
Constriction in)
ra Campanha and Sadowski (2002), Strine and Wojtal (2004), and
st Vitale and Mazzoli (2010).




1 10 100
Vitale & Mazzoli 2010 Granitoid, Italian Alps Vitale & Mazzoli 2010, foliation/fabrics
Gapais et al. 1987 Xenoliths St Cast Granite Strine & Wojtal 2004 Grain shape data, Moine thrust
Gapais et al. 1987 Xenoliths Granite Kligfield et al. 1981, reduct. spots, marble breccia
Gapais et al. 1987 Xen Gotthard Granite Lisle 1984 Qtz conglomerate, thrust
Choukroune & Gapais 1983 Xen Aar granite James et al 1989, feldspar aggregates, Australia
Simpson 1981, Alps Hossack 1968 Qtz conglomerate, Caledonian thrust
Simpson 1981 Granite, Alps Bhattacharyya 2000 Fsp aggregates, Seve Nappe
Davidson 1983, granitic, feldspar grains Campanha & Sadowski 2002, grain shape, Ribeira
Bailey et al. 1994 Granitic, Q/F, Blue Ridge Wells 2001, Elba Quartzite, Raft River Detachment

4. Shear zone initiation fractures can form immediately prior to plastic shearing, including in
the tip region of shear zones as part of a continuous process that re-
All rocks contain micro- to macroscale aws or anisotropies that, presents a strain-controlled brittle-plastic transition.
depending on their orientation and relative strength or viscosity, may In all cases where fractures act as shear zone precursors, uids are
or may not serve as nucleation points and guide shear zones as they thought to play an important role in the localization of plastic de-
grow. In what appears to be homogeneous magmatic rocks in outcrop formation. Fractures are well known to be the main pathway for uids
or sample, shear zones seem to be able to form without utilizing pre- in the solid brittle crust, but are also important in the middle and lower
existing macroscopic structures (Ramsay and Graham, 1970; Cobbold, crust where plastic deformation mechanisms dominate. High-tempera-
1977a,b; Poirier, 1980; Hobbs et al., 1990). This situation has been ture fracturing (> 500 C) has been demonstrated (e.g., Goncalves
explored by several authors by means of eld observations (Ingles et al., et al., 2016), even for lower crustal conditions (Austrheim, 1987; Marsh
1999) and numerical and rock experimental work (Mancktelow, 2002; et al., 2011) (Fig. 5ab). Hence, shear zone initiation may result from
Mandal et al., 2004; Misra and Mandal, 2007), arguing that the pre- seismic activity, including pseudotachylite development (Austrheim
sence of randomly scattered aws represented by weak mineral phases and Boundy, 1994), even though their further development as shear
are sucient for shear zones to initiate. zones is aseismic. Once fractures create pathways for uid ow, uids
Several other authors have found eld evidence that shear zones can interact with minerals in the host rock and cause metamorphic reac-
initiate on brittle fractures (Fig. 5a and f), with a transition to ductile tions that typically lead to wall softening and facilitate the transition to
deformation through the activation of plastic deformation mechanisms plastic shearing. In the case shown in Fig. 5ac, the transition is from
(Segall and Simpson, 1986; Austrheim, 1987; Guermani and plagioclase-rich granulite to more hydrous eclogite. It should be noted,
Pennacchioni, 1998; Pennacchioni, 2005; Pennacchioni and however, that in the case of early pseudotachylite formation, the tab-
Mancktelow, 2007; Pennacchioni and Zucchi, 2013; Goncalves et al., ular geometry and ne grain-size of pseudotachylite may, regardless of
2016). Segall and Simpson (1986) interpreted such fractures to be uid assistance, produce a surface heterogeneity that can localize
formed during an earlier phase of deformation. Similarly, Mancktelow plastic deformation (e.g. Passchier, 1992; Pennacchioni and Cesare,
and Pennacchioni (2005) demonstrated that the shear zones exploited 1997; Pittarello et al., 2013). Furthermore, not only fractures conduct
already existing fractures, and that the fracture length controlled the uids; evidence suggests that porosity can be created during plastic
length of subsequent shear zones. In contrast, Austrheim (1987) re- deformation by grain-boundary sliding, creep cavitation, dissolution
garded decimeter to meter-scale fractures to have formed during an and precipitation, giving rise to dynamic uid ow (pumping) during
early stage of shear zone development that permitted uid-controlled deformation (Fusseis et al., 2009).
weakening. Also Fusseis and Handy (2008) made the case that cm-scale In addition to the inuence of fractures, shear zones preferentially

H. Fossen, G.C.G. Cavalcante Earth-Science Reviews 171 (2017) 434455

Fig. 12. Illustration of simple and subsimple

(a) Simple shear (b) Subsimple shear shear (ab, both plane strain) and two 3D de-
formations known as transpression (c) and a
combination between simple shear and general
attening (d), where material in the zone ex-
trudes in all directions parallel to the zone. The
shear zone (bluish color) is discretized into three
homogeneously strained tabular bodies. Note
that the models can be oriented in any orienta-
tion with respect to the horizontal and vertical
directions. (For interpretation of the references to
color in this gure legend, the reader is referred
to the web version of this article.)
Developed from Baird and Hudleston (2007).

(c) Transpression (d) Simple shear and flattening

develop along preexisting fabrics, layers, veins and dikes in ways that their central parts with displacement decreasing toward their tips
depend on their rheological contrasts and orientations relative to the (Fig. 17a). Few data are available to quantify this relationship, but data
regional stress eld. Typically strain is localized within weak layers or collected by Pennacchioni (2005) from outcrop-scale shear zones in
structures, but can also be localized along lithologic boundaries such as granodiorite in the Adamello pluton, southern Alps, indicate that shear
dike margins, which may result in paired shear zones of the type de- zone displacement distributions are quantitatively similar to those of
scribed by Pennacchioni and Mancktelow (2007). faults, for which maximum displacement (Dmax) scales with length (L)
(Fig. 17b) according to the expression
5. Shear zone growth
Dmax = cLn, (16)

Shear zone growth is not explored to the same extent as fault where c is a constant and the exponent n is represented by a straight
growth, but shear zones seem to show many of the same growth line in a log-log diagram (red lines in Fig. 17b).
characteristics, at least qualitatively. Both shear zones and faults grow The Pennacchioni (2005) data dene a relatively steep slope (n)
in length as they accumulate displacement, although precise length when plotted in a log-log diagram (exponent 1.5, where
data for shear zones are dicult to collect because they tend to connect Dmax = 0.017L1.56) (Fig. 17b), which may suggest that displacement
with other shear zones to form composite systems or networks (see accumulates fast relative to the rate of lengthening (tip propagation).
below). This observation alone hints that in-plane growth from small to While the general (average) trend for faults is close to n = 1, higher
larger structures purely by tip propagation is less important than exponents have been found for some fault populations (e.g., Marrett
growth by linkage a growth model that has been well established from and Allmendinger, 1991; Walsh and Watterson, 1988), which better t
studies of brittle faults (Trudgill and Cartwright, 1994; Dawers and the model where faults form by reactivation of preexisting structures
Anders, 1995; Walsh et al., 2002, 2003; Soliva and Benedicto, 2004; (Walsh et al., 2002; Nicol et al., 2005). In this model, faults establish
Soliva et al., 2006). A map of shear zones in a tonalitic rock from the their length at an early point and accumulate displacement with limited
Alps, presented by Pennacchioni (2005) (Fig. 13), shows abundant tip propagation, resulting in a development from early at-topped to
examples of geometries consistent with growth by linkage, very similar bell-shaped displacement proles. This development is well portrayed
to structures found in brittle fault arrays. The result of such a process, in Fig. 17a, and we attribute this to the fact that these shear zone nu-
when developed further, is a denser shear zone swarm such as that seen cleated on preexisting weak fractures. For a larger size range, however,
in Figs. 14 and 15b, and eventually a major shear zone system at the we might expect a lower average exponent, perhaps closer to 1 as for
100 km scale, such as the Great Slave Lake shear zone (Fig. 1b) and the faults, as shown by the red lines in Fig. 17. This is because linkage will
Pan-African Borborema province (Fig. 15a) and Ribeira belt (Vauchez episodically increase the length of the shear zones and cause a shift in
et al., 2007; Ganade de Araujo et al., 2013). Such a schematic growth the growth path to the right in Fig. 17 (as indicated by the blue arrows
evolution is envisaged in Fig. 16. in the elliptical inset gure), creating a relatively wide scatter (23
orders of magnitude for faults). In detail, Pennacchioni (2005) de-
5.1. Growth in length monstrates the presence of local displacement minima at stepovers and
one or two cases of potential at-topped proles, again consistent with
It is generally true that long shear zones have higher displacements growth through linkage (Peacock and Sanderson, 1991; Soliva and
than short shear zones, and that they have maximum displacement near Benedicto, 2004; Fossen and Rotevatn, 2016).

H. Fossen, G.C.G. Cavalcante Earth-Science Reviews 171 (2017) 434455





Fig. 13. Surface map of shear zones in the Adamello tonalite, southern Alps (modied from Pennacchioni, 2005). The population shows a number of stepovers and bends (some are
encircled) that indicate that they grow in length by linkage.

Fig. 14. Anastomosing system of mostly NW-SE striking shear zones

in metagabbro, Archean Rainy Lake Zone, Canada.
Modied from Carreras et al. (2010).



N 1m

H. Fossen, G.C.G. Cavalcante Earth-Science Reviews 171 (2017) 434455

Fig. 15. Two systems of anastomosing and connecting shear zones

(a) at very dierent scales. a) Meter-scale anastomosing shear zone
system from Cap de Creus (from Fusseis et al., 2006). b) The
100 km-scale late Proterozoic Borborema shear zone system of NE
Brazil, interpreted by us from aeromagnetic data from the Brazilian
Geological Survey (CPRM). Both systems show major shear zones
connected by minor oblique zones, forming an S-C-style geometry.
The Borborema example also has some antithetic shear compo-



10 25



100 km

5.2. Thickness evolution

Shear zone thickness is another dimension that is inuenced by

strain and rheology. Considered over a large range of scales, and with a (a)
considerable amount of variation, it is clear that shear zones with small
osets and lengths are thinner than larger ones, as demonstrated from
the plot shown in Fig. 18 for shear zones from a variety of tectonic
settings and lithologies. This relation suggests that shear zone growth
involves thickening, which seems to contradict the common inter-
pretation that shear zones strain soften as strain accumulates (see
below). To explore this apparent contradiction, we will briey review
dierent models of shear zone growth, and discuss the importance of (b)
growth by tip propagation versus growth by segment linkage.

5.3. Four reference models for shear zone thickness evolution

Several theoretical models have been proposed that relate evolution

of shear zone thickness to strain and displacement accumulation
(Means, 1984, 1995; Hull, 1988; Vitale and Mazzoli, 2008; Fossen,
2016). Four idealized models are presented here, each of which pro-
duces dierent displacement proles across the zone (Fig. 19). It is
emphasized that each one is idealized and should only serve as re-
ference models. Type 1 thickens over time as strain propagates into the
walls, leaving an inactive central part behind. Plateau-type displace-
ment proles characterize Type 1, which is dierent from Type 2, where
strain increasingly localizes to the central part of the shear zone and a
characteristic bell-type develops and evolves into a peak-type prole.
Types 1 and 2 can be explained by strain hardening and weakening,
respectively. Type 3 has constant active thickness (also attributable to
weakening or connement to a weak preexisting layer), while Type 4
grows thicker while the whole shear zone remains active, and develops
a bell-type prole that, unlike Type 2, does not grow into a peak-type
prole (compare Fig. 19b and d). In practice, however, the actual
shapes of the displacement proles depend on the rate of strain hard-
ening or softening, and on the kinematic vorticity number (Wk) (see
Vitale and Mazzoli, 2008), and whether the strain is plane or three-
dimensional. Fig. 16. Schematic illustration of the evolution of a shear zone network. a) Individual
structures start to interact during growth. b) Some shear zones have connected to form
more composite zones. c) All original components have linked to a continuous network.
5.4. Weakening or hardening?
d) Network evolved to an anastomosing shear zone with lenses of less deformed protolith.
The model is largely scale independent.
There are several reasons why individual shear zones might behave

H. Fossen, G.C.G. Cavalcante Earth-Science Reviews 171 (2017) 434455

removal of dislocations (e.g., Shimizu, 2008). Grain boundary migra-

tion generally results in complete recrystallization and an interlobate
texture with interngering grain boundaries (e.g., Hirth and Tullis,
1992), but more straight grain boundaries within quartz ribbons and
granoblastic feldspar-rich layers characterize some very high-tempera-
ture ( 700 C) shear zones (Fig. 3d) (Hippertt et al., 2001; Passchier
and Trouw, 2005). These three regimes, dominated by bulging, sub-
grain rotation and grain boundary migration are also known as regimes
13, respectively (Hirth and Tullis, 1992).
The general reduction in grain size that particularly characterizes
mylonitization in the low to medium-temperature regimes has itself
been suggested to lead to softening (Warren and Hirth, 2006; Kilian
et al., 2011; Bercovici and Ricard, 2012; Montesi, 2013; Platt, 2015).
The reason is that it can promote a change in deformation mechanism
from dislocation creep to diusion creep and/or grain boundary sliding
(e.g., Jiang et al., 2000; Bestmann and Prior, 2003). However, evidence
that it may be of little importance has been put forward by De Bresser
et al. (2001), who argue that signicant weakening by grain size re-
duction can only occur by processes dierent from dynamic re-
crystallization, or if grain growth is inhibited by other mineral phases,
such as micas.
Recrystallization typically leads to the development of a preferred
crystallographic orientation, which places mineral grains in orienta-
tions of easy slip and therefore weakens the rock. This eect is com-
monly referred to as geometric softening (e.g., Rutter et al., 2001; Ji
et al., 2004; Passchier and Trouw, 2005). Metamorphic growth of weak
mineral phases during shearing, such as mica growth on behalf of
feldspar, is another well-known weakening factor known as reaction
softening (Steen et al., 2001; Gueydan et al., 2003; Passchier and
Trouw, 2005; Oliot et al., 2010). Furthermore, hydrolytic weakening,
which is caused by the introduction of water into the crystal lattice,
reduces the intercrystalline rock strength, facilitates dissolution pre-
cipitation and accelerates grain boundary migration and grain
boundary sliding (Chen and Argon, 1979; Kronenberg and Tullis, 1984;
Hirth and Tullis, 1992; Kronenberg, 1994; Mancktelow and
Pennacchioni, 2004; Finch et al., 2016). For example, wet quartz
deforms at lower dierential stresses than dry quartz (e.g., Hirth and
Tullis, 1992; Gleason and DeSisto, 2008). Shear bands represent in-
ternal shear zone structures that involve local grain-size reduction (e.g.,
Viegas et al., 2016), hence the formation of shear bands in a shear zone
may enhance shear zone weakening, particularly when coupled with
slip on the main foliation (S) (Dennis and Secor, 1990).
Shear heating may possibly increase the temperature enough to
weaken the internal part of the shear zone (Brun and Cobbold, 1980),
Fig. 17. a) Displacement-length data from amphibolite facies shear zones spanning from
3 to 21 m in length (Adamello tonalites, Italian Alps). Data from Pennacchioni (2005) and
although the eect may be limited (Platt, 2015). Finally, partial melting
Ramsay and Allison (1979). b) Maximum displacement plotted against length for shear in migmatitic areas can create melt that has a lubricating eect at
zones shown in (a), together with data from faults and cataclastic deformation bands (see various scales (Handy et al., 2001; Cavalcante et al., 2016).
Schultz and Fossen, 2002 for details). An exponential relationship (straight line re- All together, these factors generally favor shear zone softening and
presenting an exponent ~ 1.5) is seen for the shear zones, which diers somewhat from maintenance or reduction of shear zone thickness (Type 2 and Type 3
that of faults and, especially, deformation bands. (For interpretation of the references to
development: Fig. 19), while the data presented in Fig. 18 suggest that
color in this gure, the reader is referred to the web version of this article.)
they still manage to thicken as they develop. This apparent contra-
diction is similar to that of brittle faults, which have very weak fault
as Type 2 and 3 zones, with no growth in thickness and with or without
cores that theoretically should keep accumulating displacement
localization to its central parts. One of these is dynamic recrystalliza-
without thickening, but show a well-documented systematic increase in
tion, i.e. recrystallization during shearing, which may change (usually
thickness with increasing displacement when plotted over several or-
soften) the rheological properties of the sheared rock. Considering the
ders of magnitude. It is now generally accepted that fault zones grow in
case of continental crust where quartz is abundant enough to control
thickness due to linkage by tip interaction and coalescence (Fig. 16), as
the deformation, recrystallization at relatively low temperatures typi-
well as the formation of lenses and fault splays due to geometric
cally occurs by bulging (important at 250400 C) and subgrain rotation
complications along non-planar faults (Childs et al., 2009; Wibberley
(~ 400510 C) (Fig. 3) (Stipp et al., 2002), leading to nucleation of
et al., 2008). Shear zone evolution is in principle thought to occur in a
new and smaller grains (Hirth and Tullis, 1992; Stipp and Kunze, 2007).
similar way, where linkage and local complications due to geometric
If recrystallization occurs by subgrain rotation, new grains have lower
complications (bend in shear zone, deection around heterogeneities)
dislocation density and therefore deform at lower dierential stress
are important causes for shear zone widening with time. These are ty-
(weakening) (Passchier and Trouw, 2005). At higher temperatures,
pically temporal complications that may cause transient hardening that
grain boundary migration dominates, which involves easy migration of
can cause episodic widening in a generally weak shear zone.
grain boundaries, grain growth and also strain softening through the
Even when not considering network formation, most individual

H. Fossen, G.C.G. Cavalcante Earth-Science Reviews 171 (2017) 434455

Fig. 18. Displacement-Thickness (D-T) data extracted from eld data,

106 Jotun Nappe maps and publications in a range of magmatic and metamorphic
rocks. Crosses represent thrusts, which behave dierent from shear
105 Glarus Glencoul zones in general. Triangles represent shear zones in magmatic rocks
that initiated from fractures. Data from Ramsay and Allison (1979),
104 Segall and Simpson (1986), Pennachioni (2005), Christiansen and
Displacement (m)

Pollard (1997), Mazzolli et al. (2004) and Rosenberg and Schneider

103 (2008).

102 T=10 D

Own estimates
1 Major thrusts
Ramsay & Allison 1979
Segall & Simpson 1986 + Pennacchioni 2005
101 Christiansen & Pollard 1997
Vein systems (Mazzolli et al. 2004)
Rosenberg & Schneider 2008






Thickness (m)

faults and shear zones show evidence of thickening as they accumulate Furthermore, the walls may soften as uids in the shear zone in-
more strain and oset. For faults this can be caused by tectonic abrasion ltrate the walls, causing wall rock weakening through metamorphic
of the wall rock, sometimes facilitated by bed-parallel slip (e.g., phase transformation and consequently shear zone widening (Type 1 or
Watterson et al., 1998), and by geometric complications at fault bends. 4). It has been proposed that relatively high pressure within shear zones
Fault core hardening by cementation is also possible. For shear zones, can eectively drive water into the hostrock, drying and thus hardening
hardening can be related to by metamorphic growth of stronger mi- the shear zone core a mechanism suggested as an explanation for the
nerals, accumulation of dislocations, or dehydration or changes in de- formation of km-thick ultramylonite zones (Finch et al., 2016). The
formation mechanism (e.g., Oliot et al., 2010). Geometric complica- source of such uids may be external, but uids may also be released
tions along individual shear zones can also cause local transient from hydrous minerals or during recrystallization of quartz and feldspar
hardening. Such complications may be associated with relatively in the shear zone core (Mittempergher et al., 2014).
competent objects of various kinds in the shear zone or locations of Finally, we would expect shear zones developing along preexisting
linkage where duplexes or fold trains build up and cause widening of weak layers to be more likely to develop low D/T ratios. Thrusts typi-
the zone (Woodcock and Fisher, 1986; Fossen and Rykkelid, 1990; cally form in such weak layers, of which the Glarus thrust in the Swiss
Rykkelid and Fossen, 1992). Alps is an extreme example. This thrust-type shear zone involves

Fig. 19. Four dierent types of shear zones based on thickness and activity through time, where the black-gray elds represent active portions of the shear zone. a) Type 1, where the zone
widens and leaves the central part inactive. b) Type 2 where strain localizes to the central part of the zone. c) Type 3, which maintains its thickness and is everywhere active at any given
time. d) Type 4, where the zone widens and is everywhere active. Shear strain proles, thickness-evolution, and thickness of active part of shear zone through time are shown for each

H. Fossen, G.C.G. Cavalcante Earth-Science Reviews 171 (2017) 434455

(1979) map, shows how similarly oriented neighboring shear zones that
a c d formed during the same deformation phase and P-T conditions in the
same rock show very dierent thicknesses and dierent amounts of
strain localization. It is dicult to tell what caused these dierences,
and more research is required to obtain a better understanding of shear
zone behavior during growth.
N 5.5. Shear zone arrays

Fig. 20. Foliation patterns in granite in the Maggia Nappe, Swiss Alps, revealing meter- As stated above, shear zones typically form arrays or networks.
scale shear zones that show marked dierences in width and strain localization. The There are two fundamentally dierent ways for shear zone to organize
examples are selected from Plate I in Ramsay and Allison (1979). themselves into arrays. One is the kind of network consisting of ana-
stomosing high-strain zones that together form a wider zone of shear
~ 50 km displacement, and localizes most of its strain to a ~1 m thick (Fig. 21ab). The other is conjugate or polymodal shear zones that de-
layer of calc-mylonite (the Lochseitenkalk) derived from a Jurassic ne volumes (lozenges) of less deformed or undeformed rocks
limestone layer (Schmid, 1975). (Fig. 21d), as a parallel to conjugate sets of shear fractures or de-
The Glarus thrust example displays another interesting aspect that formation bands in the brittle regime (Fig. 21c).
concerns the evolution of major shear zones, namely that of changing The rst category is the case where non-planar shear zones together
temperature conditions. This is an important consideration for major form an anastomosing pattern of interconnected shear zone elements
shear zones that develop over long geologic time periods, during which with a consistent sense of shear, hence reecting bulk non-coaxial de-
a prograde, and/or retrograde evolution may occur. Changes in tem- formation. Such shear zones form by linkage of individual shear zone
perature cause changes in deformation mechanisms, which can aect elements (see above), by the formation of internally oblique shear zones
the evolution of shear zone thickness. In the case of the Glarus thrust, a or shear bands, similar to smaller-scale S-C structures (e.g., Lister and
reduction in temperature over time caused reworking of early high-T Snoke, 1984), and by deection of shear around more rigid objects that
fabrics by low-T shearing in the central part of the shear zone (Ebert can vary in size from porphyroclasts to large magmatic bodies.
et al., 2007). A marked reduction in steady-state grain size was noted The more symmetric conjugate arrays are kinematically dierent
from the outer high-T mylonite to the central low-T core, altogether from anastomosing shear zones in that the dierent sets show dierent
suggesting that the shear zone narrowed during cooling. Eventually sense of shear, and together relate to a bulk coaxial or close to coaxial
cataclasite and gouge developed along thin bands during late brittle deformation (Fig. 21bc). Symmetric arrays are described from both
shearing. This evolution is clearly consistent with Type 2 evolution magmatic and metamorphic complexes, notably from the Aar Massif of
(Fig. 19), with softening possibly being related to grain-size reduction. the Alps (Choukroune and Gapais, 1983; Lamouroux et al., 1991;
Returning to Fig. 18, all of the above mentioned factors contribute Wehrens et al., 2017), and large-scale symmetric networks have been
to the large variation in the thickness-displacement relation exhibited postulated for the lower crust based on reection seismic data (Reston,
in this graph. They are also dicult to address because many of the 1988; Blundell, 1990; Odinsen et al., 2000; Clerc et al., 2015).
weakening and hardening mechanisms can change through the de- The deformation in networks is by nature partitioned, primarily
formation history or even be transient (Steen et al., 2001; Rutter et al., between non-parallel sets of shear zones and less deformed lozenges
2001). Moreover, Fig. 18 reveals that many shear zones that appear to between these shear zones (Carreras et al., 2013). Several authors have
have initiated on fractures (triangles in Fig. 18) have higher displace- claimed that the three-dimensional geometry of shear zone networks
ment/thickness (D/T) ratios then the rest of the data, which is to be reect bulk strain symmetry, in the sense that orthorhombic networks
expected since they localize on thin and already weak fractures. On the reect bulk coaxial strain while networks formed during non-coaxial
contrary, vein-forming brittle-ductile shear zones (Fig. 8a) (circles in deformation develop with lower symmetry (Fig. 22) (Choukroune and
Fig. 18) show low D/T ratios, because veins propagate relatively rapidly Gapais, 1983; Gapais et al., 1987; Tiko et al., 2013). In this context,
into the shear zone walls. These two groups, both of which involve a elongated lenses of undeformed rock characterize bulk constriction,
brittle component of deformation, thus dene the upper and lower while disk-shaped lenses reect general attening. However, care must
boundaries of the D/T range for outcrop-scale shear zones. The re- be taken where shear zone networks form by exploitation of preexisting
maining D/T data include shear zones with no evidence of associated weak heterogeneities such as fractures and dikes, in which case the
brittle structures. They still show a large variation in D/T, as ex- shear zone architecture could be an inherited one.
emplied by Fig. 20. This gure, extracted from Ramsay and Allison's Whereas volumes between conjugate sets of brittle shear features

Fig. 21. Schematic view of a fault zone (a), composite

(a) Non-coaxial (c) Coaxial network shear zone with internal anastomosing pattern (b), con-
zone jugate fault network (c) and conjugate shear zone network
(d). ab show non-coaxial strain and asymmetric struc-
Brittle tures, while cd show symmetrically arranged structures
reecting coaxial strain.
<90 Inspired by Choukroune et al. (1987).

(b) (d)


H. Fossen, G.C.G. Cavalcante Earth-Science Reviews 171 (2017) 434455

Fig. 22. a) Interpretation of shear zone array geometry in terms

R -1 of bulk strain, as illustrated in the context of the Flinn diagram.

RXY=X/Y k= XY bc) Kinematics around a lens of less deformed rock extracted

RYZ-1 from a conjugate (b) and anastomosing (c) shear zone array.


(b) (c)

Conjugate Anastomosing
(slip surfaces, deformation bands, faults) tend to be undeformed, vo- internal deformation and rotation of lozenges. The way that ow is
lumes bound by sets of shear zones more easily deform internally, partitioned within shear zone network and the associated variations in
which causes the angular relations between the shear zones to change Wk, strain geometry and strain magnitude is complicated and variable,
(Mancktelow, 2002). In particular, the angle between sets facing the and deserves further attention. Hudleston (1999) approached this si-
shortening direction may increase with progressive deformation (Mitra, tuation by constructing a simple pseudo-3D model (Fig. 23) of two sets
1979; Ramsay and Huber, 1983; Carreras et al., 2010). Hence, while the of interlinked shear zones in a volume deforming by bulk simple shear,
maximum nite strain axis always bisects the acute angle between with shear along the horizontal x coordinate axis on the horizontal yx-
conjugate sets in the brittle eld, it bisects the obtuse angle in most plane. The prismatic lozenges between the shear zone elements remain
shear zone networks. This feature is also inuenced by the fact that unstrained in this model, and the resulting deformation in the shear
initial conjugate shear zone sets make ~45 to the main principal stress network varies from local transpression via simple shear to transtension
direction (Mancktelow, 2002) while this angle is smaller, typically (Fig. 23). Adding a distributed strain, such as pure shear to form
closer to 30, for brittle shear structures (Fig. 21). Again, however, care transpression, would add to these complications (Hudleston, 1999).
should be taken that shear zone orientations may be inuenced by Hudleston's simple example demonstrates how even very simple and
preexisting heterogeneities (e.g., Pennacchioni and Zucchi, 2013). idealized shear zone networks generate large spatial variations in strain
In general, the total strain within a heterogeneously deformed rock geometry, strain magnitude and vorticity, and that local observations
volume is partitioned between the dierent shear zone sets and by the within shear zone network are unlikely to be representative of the bulk

Fig. 23. a) Simple shear zone network in a bulk simple shear

(a) (b) framework (shearing along the coordinate x-axis with no bulk
strain in the y-z plane and no internal strain in the lozenges).
Con- The strain varies within the shear zone network (yellow) be-
striction tween constriction, k = 1 and attening, reecting deviations
from simple shear. b) Flinn diagram showing qualitatively dif-

TT ferent strain paths. TT = transtension, TP = transpression,


X/Y SS = simple shear. (For interpretation of the references to color

in this gure legend, the reader is referred to the web version of
SS this article.)
TT TP Modied from Hudleston (1999).



H. Fossen, G.C.G. Cavalcante Earth-Science Reviews 171 (2017) 434455

deformation of the system. Natural networks would have non-planar 6.3. Veins and dikes
shear zone elements dening more complex and irregular geometries,
with correspondingly less predictable variations in strain and coaxi- Veins and dikes with dierent orientations shorten (buckle) or
ality. Both eld observations from well-exposed shear zone arrays lengthen (boudinage) according to Wk and strain, and thus represent
(Ramsay and Allison, 1979; Choukroune and Gapais, 1983; Carreras, another source of information about vorticity, provided that they can be
2001; Fusseis et al., 2006; Carreras et al., 2010; Pennacchioni, 2005) treated as passive markers (calcite veins in carbonate rock, quartz veins
and numerical modeling (Mancktelow, 2002) are called for to further in quartzite, granitic dikes in granite, etc.; Talbot, 1970; Hutton, 1982;
explore the distribution of strain and variations in vorticity in shear Passchier, 1986). Line directions showing nite extension (e), con-
zone arrays for dierent bulk strain conditions. traction (c), and contraction followed by extension (c,e) are then
plotted in order to constrain the respective sectors (Fig. 24) (note that
6. Estimating the kinematic vorticity number (Wk) from sheared extension followed by contraction (e,c) is not possible during steady-
rocks state deformation, and indicates non-steady-state ow or polyphase
deformation). Regardless of the type of deformation, the c,e sectors
The non-coaxiality of shear zones is expressed by the kinematic increase in size with increasing strain as the boundary between the c,e
vorticity number Wk (Means et al., 1980) and can, given some as- and e elds rotate during extension (Fig. 25). For pure shear, there are
sumptions and simplications, be estimated from naturally deformed two c,e sectors of identical range, while there is only one for simple
rocks in several ways (Xypolias, 2010). Vorticity analysis is based on shear (Fig. 25). For subsimple shear the two c,e sectors are of dierent
information about progressive deformation or ow parameters, i.e. sizes, but proportionally constant as they grow during strain accumu-
incremental strain, instantaneous stretching axes (ISA), and ow apo- lation. This proportion reects Wk, which can be found by means of the
physis, and in this context the rotation patterns dened by line and Mohr construction for strain, as outlined in Passchier (1990) and em-
plane structures during deformation (Fig. 24). Clearly these are para- ployed by several authors (e.g., Passchier and Urai, 1988; Wallis, 1992;
meters that may be challenging to extract from naturally deformed Short and Johnson, 2006). The method requires dikes or veins with a
rocks. The most common assumption is that of subsimple shear, i.e. wide range of orientations to work.
plane strain. The other is that of steady-state deformation, or that the
estimated Wk value represents an average Wk over the deformation 6.4. Porphyroclast systems
interval during which the applied structure or fabric formed. In addi-
tion, constant volume is commonly assumed, which will, for simplicity, Many studies of vorticity involve porphyroclasts and porphyroblasts
also be assumed in the following. and their rotation patterns. These methods assume perfect coupling (no
slip) between clast and matrix, no clast interference, 2D clast shapes
6.1. Foliation (RXY- method)
Subsimple shear
The simplest approach is to use the orientation of the foliation that Pure shear Wk=0.81 Simple shear
traces the X-Y plane of the strain ellipsoid. The initiation angle of this
foliation with the shear zone is 45 for simple shear (foliation visible at
slightly lower angles), but for shear that involves thinning across the
shear zone, the angle is lower (Fig. 7). Similarly, thickening shear zones c c c
have higher values (Fig. 7). The relationship between and Wk is ISA1 e 27.2 e
e e
shown graphically in Fig. 8, and for plane strain the relation is: e e
c c
Wk = cos(90 2) (17)
6.2. Vein tips c,e c c,e c c
c,e e
e e e
The relationship shown in Eq. (17) can also be used for the or-
ientation of synkinematic veins or vein tips in vein systems (brittle-
ductile shear zones). Veins initiate at 45 ( = 45) to the shear zone
boundary in simple shear zones, and incipient vein or vein tip or-
ientation can be used to constrain and therefore Wk, as shown in c,e c c,e c c,e c c,e
Fig. 8. c,e e
e e e

Strain ellipse

(contracted) c,e c c,e c c c,e
c,e c,e
e e
c,e e e

e (extended) e
Fig. 25. The evolution of elds containing passive line structures that experienced con-
Fig. 24. Orientation of deformed veins that show contraction (eld c), contraction, then traction and then extension (eld c,e). As strain accumulates, the two elds evolve in a
extension (e.g., boudinaged folds; eld c,e), and only extension (eld e). The combined symmetric way for pure shear, in an asymmetric way for subsimple shear, and for simple
size of the c,e-elds relates to strain, while the asymmetry or relative dierence in size of shear one of the eld is completely collapsed. The asymmetry indicates Wk, as the ratio
the c,e-elds characterizes Wk. For pure shear, the two c,e-elds would be equal, while for between the two elds is constant for steady-state deformations. ISA1 is the fastest in-
simple shear there would be only one. Data from Wallis (1992), who estimated stantaneous stretching direction, which is 0 for pure shear, 45 for simple shear and ~ 27
0.51 < Wk < 0.70. The nite strain was estimated to RXZ = 1:3.5. for the chosen subsimple shear (Wk = 0.81).

H. Fossen, G.C.G. Cavalcante Earth-Science Reviews 171 (2017) 434455

and constant Wk (i.e., steady-state) deformation (Xypolias, 2010), plane forward) depending on Wk and their shape (R) implies that the shape of
strain, and that the plane of observation is the X-Z plane, i.e. perpen- their tails/wings can be used to constrain the type of ow regime. This
dicular to the foliation and parallel to the stretching lineation. For is utilized in the method known as the porphyroclast hyperbolic dis-
simple shear, particles will rotate permanently (round the clock) for all tribution (PHD) method, which considers tailed porphyroclasts and their
realistic porphyroclast shapes, but for subsimple shear (0 < Wk < 1), aspect ratio (R), inclination (orientation), sense of rotation and por-
particles with an aspect ratio above a critical aspect value (Rc) will phyroclast type. The diagram used (Fig. 27) is based on a hyperbolic net
rotate into a stable position and then stay xed (Jeery, 1922). This (Simpson and De Paor, 1993) where the porphyroclasts are plotted with
critical aspect ratio Rc relates to Wk through the relationship: respect to orientation and aspect ratio (R), the latter represented by the
radius. Furthermore, each clast is indexed with respect to the type of
Wk = (R 2c 1) (R 2c + 1) (18) porphyroclast ( or ) and sense of rotation. A hyperbola is drawn so
(Passchier, 1987). that one limb is asymptotic to the shear zone, while the other separates
To nd Rc we plot the porphyroclast aspect ratio (R) against the forward- and backward-rotating porphyroclasts. The hyperbola should
angle between the clasts long axis and the foliation as observed in the t the positions of type mantled clasts with the highest aspect ratios
XZ plane (Fig. 27). This method is commonly referred to as the por- to the hyperbolic curve (Passchier and Trouw, 2005). The two limbs of
phyroclast aspect ratio (PAR) method, and is applied in a number of re- the hyperbola are assumed to represent the two ow apophyses
cent studies (e.g., Law et al., 2004; Xypolias and Kokkalas, 2006; Forte (Fig. 27), in which case the cosine of the angle between them gives
and Bailey, 2007; Zhang and Teyssier, 2013; Ring et al., 2015; Faleiros Wk (Eq. (10)) (strictly valid for plane strain deformations only; Tiko
et al., 2016). The rotational behavior of porphyroclasts with dierent and Fossen, 1995).
shapes also has consequences for mantled porphyroclast systems; -
clasts are favored by rapid rotation relative to the recrystallization rate 6.5. Crystallographic fabrics
and are therefore more likely to form at aspect values < Rc, whereas -
type porphyroclasts would be better represented for clasts with Crystallographic preferred orientation (CPO) patterns of quartz can,
R > Rc, i.e. the right-hand part of Fig. 26. together with strain (RXZ), be used to constrain vorticity (Wallis, 1992,
The fact that porphyroclasts rotate dierently (backward or 1995; Law et al., 2013). Most methods rely on the presence of a Type 1

Fig. 26. a) Porphyroclast aspect ratio (R) plotted against their or-
ientation with respect to the macroscopic mylonitic foliation. Rc is the
cuto angle that separates continuously rotating clasts from non-ro-
tating clasts, and is used to estimate Wk. Note that R is not related to
strain, but to the short/long axis of the porphyroclast. Modied from
Law et al. (2004). b) Illustration of aspect ratio R. c) Rotation during
simple shear (consistent rotation direction). d) Rotation during sub-
simple shear, where some clasts rotate backwards toward the shear

H. Fossen, G.C.G. Cavalcante Earth-Science Reviews 171 (2017) 434455

Wk = sin 2 = sin 2( + ) (20)

R This method is referred to as the oblique grain-shape and quartz c-axis

fabric method (Wallis, 1995), or simply the / method (e.g., Xypolias,
Forward 2010).
Experiments (Herwegh and Handy, 1996) indicate that the angle
in Fig. 28 is related to the ow vorticity and to the nite strain RXZ at
Forward the end of the deformation. Again, assuming that this angle approx-
Back- ward rotation imates the angle between ISA1 and the X-Y plane of the nite strain
rota- tion ellipsoid, Wk can then be calculated from the equation (Xypolias, 2009):
Rc RXZ + 1
AP1 Wk = sin(2)
RXZ 1 (21)

and the method is known as the RXY/ method in much of the current

3 6.7. General results and challenges

4 If we consider the growing number of Wk estimates that have been

5 extracted from deformed rocks based on the above mentioned methods,
the majority of estimates range from 0.61, with a peak close to
Fig. 27. Hyperbolic plot of porphyroclasts, where apophysis (AP1 and AP2) separate clasts
of opposite rotation sense. The gray circle in the middle has radius Rc and within that
Wk = 0.7. Qualitatively this makes the case that most shear zones in-
circle everything rotates constantly with the ow (clockwise). Wk is the cosine to the volve a component of pure shear. Quantitatively we should be aware
angle between AP1 and AP2. For simple shear, there is no eld of back-rotation, = 0 that the methods mentioned above involve several assumptions and
and AP2 = AP1. uncertainties, and it has been demonstrated that some methods con-
sistently give dierent results. For example, Wk estimates based on
(Lister, 1977) cross-girdle quartz c-axis fabric, whose normal is as- quartz c-axis microfabrics tend to yield higher Wk estimates (commonly
sumed to represent the shear (or ow) plane, i.e. the plane dened by close to 0.9) than the commonly used porphyroclast methods (e.g., Law
the shear zone walls. Hence, the orientation of the shear plane is found et al., 2004; Sullivan, 2008; Johnson et al., 2009; Xypolias, 2009, 2010;
by constructing a line perpendicular to the central segment of the fabric Stahr and Law, 2011). This could mean that some of the assumptions
girdle, as shown in Fig. 28. For the RXZ/ method, the angle between are incorrect, but could also mean that they record dierent portions of
this plane and the foliation is utilized in a similar way to the RXY- the deformation history, which would suggest non-steady ow. Even if
method above. Accordingly, Wk can be found from the formula Wk estimates may be quantitatively imprecise, it is interesting to note
that they have been used to map variations in Wk within shear zones,
1 RXZ tan2
Wk = cos tan1
for examples in Caledonian thrusts in Scotland, where quartz micro-

1 RXZ tan (19) fabrics indicate an increase in non-coaxiality (Wk number) toward
structurally higher levels of the Moine Thrust Zone and overlying Moine
(Xypolias, 2009) by means of the Mohr circle for strain (Wallis, 1992), Nappe (Thigpen et al., 2010a,b; also see Xypolias, 2010). The fact that
or by using Fig. 7 by substituting for . The main challenge with this many of these spatial variations in Wk estimates are gradual suggests
method is dening the angle , since the central segment of c-axis that they are real, at least qualitatively. Such variations are also ex-
girdles rarely are perfectly straight. pected to exist in dierent locations within shear zone networks, with
shear zone intersections representing anomalous areas of strain and Wk
6.6. Oblique grain-shape fabric (/ and RXY/ methods) values (see Hudleston, 1999). Hence, future research on Wk should
include mapping of Wk in shear zone networks at various scales.
Mylonites commonly show dynamically recrystallized quartz ag-
gregates or domains with a grain-shape fabric at an angle to the main 7. Discussion
foliation (Fig. 28b). The quartz grain shape fabric (Si) forming the
maximum angle with the mylonitic foliation may be taken to closely 7.1. Strain and strain variations
parallel ISA1, based on the assumption that the grain has only experi-
enced a small portion of the nite strain and therefore a negligible The role of shear zones in the crust is hard to overestimate, and even
amount of rotation (Wallis, 1995). These angular relations can then be though our knowledge of such zones has advanced a lot over the last
used to estimate Wk (Fig. 7): 50 years, there is a strong need to better understand the properties and

Fig. 28. a) Quartz c-axis fabric diagram, where the shear plane
(a) (b) is perpendicular to the straight central girdle fragment. b)
~0.1-1 mm Angular relationships between the shear plane (horizontal),
ISAmax mylonitic foliation at angle to the shear plane, and a late in-
ternal preferred orientation dening a weak and late Si fabric at

r plan
Si an angle to S. The shear plane in b) can be found from a).

e Foliation
' Shear
'++ plane

H. Fossen, G.C.G. Cavalcante Earth-Science Reviews 171 (2017) 434455

development of shear zones, from the microscale to the scale of the zone softened in its central part. Hence, it is possible that dierent Wk
lithosphere. Simplifying the complexity of natural shear zones is ne- from dierent methods reect changes in vorticity during deformation
cessary, and the development from exploring shear zones in terms of (non-steady ow), simply because each method captures dierent
simple shear, then as subsimple shear and nally non-coaxial 3D strain portions or parts of the deformation history. At the same time it should
(notably transpression and transtension) has been logical and neces- be emphasized that each method is based on one or more simplifying
sary. Plane strain is still widely assumed, and when considering the fact assumptions, such as plane strain, no slip along porphyroclasts, no
that many or most shear zones show evidence of non-plane strain (e.g., partitioning of strain within the eld of observation, correct observa-
Baird and Hudleston, 2007), this assumption may clearly lead to in- tion of the shear plane orientation, etc., and it is not always easy to
accurate estimates of shear strain variations, oset and Wk. Deviation justify that these conditions are fullled. Nevertheless, variations in Wk
from plane strain is reected by both prolate and oblate strain ellipsoid are to be expected due to changing external or internal conditions
geometries, and are particularly common in shear zone networks and during shear zone evolution, for instance related to linkage of shear
thrust zones. Volume loss may contribute to attening strain (e.g., zone elements or the geometric eect of protolithic lozenges, variations
Mohanty and Ramsay, 1994), but signicant volume change is not in- in rate of volume loss, etc. Fossen and Tiko (1997) showed how Wk
volved in all shear zones, and even when it is, it can be a mere addition will vary from near simple shear to gradually become more pure-shear
to a general non-coaxial 3D strain (Bhattacharyya and Hudleston, dominated if the amount of strain is minimized with respect to oset
2001). Furthermore, constrictional strain formed by steady-state ow (producing a given oset with a minimum amount of strain). Other
cannot be explained by plane strain and volume change unless the cases may be envisioned, but in general, perfect steady-state deforma-
volume change happens parallel to the shear zone and perpendicular to tion seems unlikely, and only serves as a useful model when informa-
the shear direction a rather unlikely situation for most shear zones. tion about the deformation history is lacking. Again, detailed eld-
However, the possibility that non-plane strain is the result of ow based observations combined with techniques for dating local de-
perturbations during progressive deformation (Holst and Fossen, 1987) formation and numerical modeling are needed to predict how and to
or the superposition of deformations (Ratschbacher, 1986) should al- what extent Wk varies for dierent tectonic situations.
ways be considered.
3D deformation creates ow of material within shear zones in all 8. Concluding remarks
directions, and it is interesting, in this context, that strain geometry
within shear zones and thrust zones tends to vary across the shear or Shear zones contain valuable information that can be extracted by
transport direction (Strine and Wojtal, 2004), sometimes from strongly analysis of small-scale structures and with implications for larger-scale
attening to almost purely constrictional over relatively short dis- tectonics. Most of the methods available to extract this information rely
tances, (e.g., Hossack, 1968; Kligeld et al., 1981; Lisle, 1984; Gapais on assumptions such as simple or subsimple shear (plane strain).
et al., 1987; Holst and Fossen, 1987). An interesting question is whether Estimations of Wk (kinematic vorticity number) typically sample rela-
the resulting variations in strain geometry add up to a simple total tively small portions of shear zones, sometimes on the microscopic
deformation such as simple shear or simple transpression. Local thin- scale, and should therefore be used with care, as Wk may vary across
ning and extrusion may be balanced by local thickening, but it is and along shear zones. However, the most challenging question to be
usually dicult to obtain enough strain data from natural shear zone addressed is that of ow steadiness, i.e. to what extent deformation and
networks to evaluate their total deformation. Similarly, vorticity esti- Wk change during the course of shear zone evolution. Related to this
mates, which have become increasingly popular over the last two question is a need to better understand incremental strain fabrics and
decades, also vary due to strain variations and partitioning, and a few rheological aspects of sheared rocks, i.e. how to read deformation his-
estimates of Wk on the microscale should not automatically be con- tory out of shear zone structures and fabrics. For practical purposes we
sidered representative for the shear zone as a whole. Hence, strain and need to make simplifying assumptions and models, such as subsimple
Wk are scale dependent, similar to concepts such as pure and simple shear (plane strain), but use nite strain indicators and other evidence
shear. It seems clear that numerical modeling is needed to explore how to justify our assumptions. It is useful to be able to describe relative
such variations may realistically occur in various tectonic settings and variations in strain and ow parameters across and between shear
under dierent kinematic boundary conditions. zones, even if inaccurate in terms of absolute values. At the same time,
numerical modeling of shear zones should be carried out to explore
7.2. Steady state or not? more complex and realistic situations, notably shear zone networks and
the consequence of geometric irregularities in shear zones. One of the
As always in structural geology, eld-based observations are limited most important aspects of such modeling should be the relationship
to the nite state of strain, and the deformation history can only be between local and bulk strain and vorticity of shear zone arrays, which
assessed indirectly. Hence the question regarding steady-state de- has implications for the understanding of the larger-scale tectonic pic-
formation, where the ow parameters are the same at any instant of ture. Field-based studies are still fundamentally important when ex-
deformation, is both an important and a challenging one, and requires ploring shear zone evolution, but need to involve detailed micro-
information about the deformation history of the shear zone. structural work and high-resolution techniques for constraining
Extracting history from shear zone requires knowledge of the shear temperature, pressure, chronology and deformation mechanisms.
zone evolution through time (Means, 1995) so that structures re-
presenting dierent increments of deformation can be identied. For Acknowledgments
example, if there is evidence for shear zone thickening, then the mar-
gins will record the last part of the history. In cases where the active The authors are grateful for very helpful review comments by
part of the shear zone narrows, the margins record early deformation. Giorgio Pennacchioni and an unknown reviewer. Special thanks to
Furthermore, in a shear zone system, older shear zones cut by younger Katherine Cavalcante Fossen for joining our team. This work was made
ones may provide information about the rst part of the deformation possible by support from FAPESP projects 2015/23572-5, 2013/19061-
history. Quartz microfabrics (Fig. 28) may for example only record the 0 and 2014/10146-5, and from L. Meltzers Hyskolefond.
last increment, while deformed pre-existing markers (Fig. 24) record an
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