Shear (geology) - Mechanisms of Shearing

Mechanisms of Shearing

The mechanisms of shearing depend on the pressure and temperature of the rock and on the rate of shear which the rock is subjected to. The response of the rock to these conditions determines how it accommodates the deformation.

Shear zones which occur in more brittle rheological conditions (cooler, less confining pressure) or at high rates of strain, tend to fail by brittle failure; breaking of minerals, which are ground up into a breccia with a milled texture.

Shear zones which occur under brittle-ductile conditions can accommodate much deformation by enacting a series of mechanisms which rely less on fracture of the rock and occur within the minerals and the mineral lattices themselves. Shear zones accommodate compressive stress by movement on foliation planes.

Shearing at ductile conditions may occur by fracturing of minerals and growth of sub-grain boundaries, as well as by lattice glide. This occurs particularly on platy minerals, especially micas.

Mylonites are essentially ductile shear zones.

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