Resolving puzzles of the phase-transformation-based mechanism of the strong deep-focus earthquake
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Aerospace EngineeringMechanical EngineeringAmes Laboratory
Deep-focus earthquakes that occur at 350–660 km are assumed to be caused by olivine → spinel phase transformation (PT). However, there are many existing puzzles: (a) What are the mechanisms for jump from geological 10−17 − 10−15 s−1 to seismic 10 − 103 s−1 strain rates? Is it possible without PT? (b) How does metastable olivine, which does not completely transform to spinel for over a million years, suddenly transform during seconds? (c) How to connect shear-dominated seismic signals with volume-change-dominated PT strain? Here, we introduce a combination of several novel concepts that resolve the above puzzles quantitatively. We treat the transformation in olivine like plastic strain-induced (instead of pressure/stress-induced) and find an analytical 3D solution for coupled deformation-transformation-heating in a shear band. This solution predicts conditions for severe (singular) transformation-induced plasticity (TRIP) and self-blown-up deformation-transformation-heating process due to positive thermomechanochemical feedback between TRIP and strain-induced transformation. This process leads to temperature in a band, above which the self-blown-up shear-heating process in the shear band occurs after finishing the PT. Our findings change the main concepts in studying the initiation of the deep-focus earthquakes and PTs during plastic flow in geophysics in general.
This article is published as Levitas, Valery I. "Resolving puzzles of the phase-transformation-based mechanism of the strong deep-focus earthquake." Nature Communications 13, no. 1 (2022): 1-10. DOI: 10.1038/s41467-022-33802-y. Copyright 2022 The Author(s). Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0). Posted with permission.