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Structural control of weathering processes within exhumed granitoids: Compartmentalisation of geophysical properties by faults and fractures

Abstract : In the latter stages of exhumation processes, rocks undergo weathering. Weathering halos have been described in the vicinity of structures such as faults, veins or dykes, with a lateral size gradually narrowing with depth, symmetrically around the structures. In this paper, we describe the geophysical characterisation of such alteration patterns on two granitoid outcrops of the Catalan Coastal Ranges (Spain), each of which is affected by one major fault, as well as minor faults and fractures. Seismic, electric and ground penetrating radar surveys were carried out to map the spatial distribution of P-wave velocity, electrical resistivity and to identify reflectors of electromagnetic waves. The analysis of this multi-method and complementary dataset revealed that, at shallow depth, geophysical properties of the materials are compartmentalised and asymmetric with respect to major and subsidiary faults affecting the rock mass. This compartmentalisation and asymmetry both tend to attenuate with depth, whereas the effect of weathering is more symmetric with respect to the major structure of the outcrops. We interpret such compartmentalisation as resulting from the role of hydraulic and mechanical boundaries played by subsidiary faults, which tend to govern both the chemical and physical alterations involved in weathering. Thus, the smoothly narrowing halo model is not always accurate, as weathering halos can be strongly asymmetrical and present highly irregular contours delimiting sharp contrasts of geophysical properties. These results should be considered when investigating and modelling fluid storage and transfer in top crystalline rock settings for groundwater applications, hydrocarbon or geothermal reservoirs, as well as mineral deposits.
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https://hal.univ-lorraine.fr/hal-02457301
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J. Place, Yves Géraud, M. Diraison, G. Herquel, J.-B. Edel, et al.. Structural control of weathering processes within exhumed granitoids: Compartmentalisation of geophysical properties by faults and fractures. Journal of Structural Geology, Elsevier, 2016, 84, pp.102-119. ⟨10.1016/j.jsg.2015.11.011⟩. ⟨hal-02457301⟩

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