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Authors: Masoch, Simone* 
Fondriest, Michele* 
Gomila, Rodrigo* 
Jensen, Erik* 
Mitchell, Thomas M.* 
Cembrano, Jose* 
Pennacchioni, Giorgio* 
Di Toro, Giulio* 
Title: Along-strike architectural variability of an exhumed crustal-scale seismogenic fault (Bolfin Fault Zone, Atacama Fault System, Chile)
Journal: Journal of Structural Geology 
Series/Report no.: /165 (2022)
Publisher: Elsevier
Issue Date: Dec-2022
DOI: 10.1016/j.jsg.2022.104745
Keywords: Atacama fault system
Fault structure
Fault zone rocks
Fluid-driven seismicity
Seismogenic faults
Subject Classification04. Solid Earth
Abstract: Fault zone architecture and its internal structural variability play a pivotal role in earthquake mechanics, by controlling, for instance, the nucleation, propagation and arrest of individual seismic ruptures and the evolution in space and time of foreshock and aftershock seismic sequences. Nevertheless, the along-strike architectural variability of crustal-scale seismogenic sources over regional distances is still poorly investigated. Here, we describe the architectural variability of the >40-km-long exhumed, seismogenic Bolfin Fault Zone (BFZ) of the intra-arc Atacama Fault System (Northern Chile). The BFZ cuts through plutonic rocks of the Mesozoic Coastal Cordillera and was seismically active at 5–7 km depth and ≤ 300 °C in a fluid-rich environment. The BFZ includes multiple altered fault core strands, consisting of chlorite-rich cataclasites-ultracataclasites and pseudotachylytes, surrounded by chlorite-rich protobreccias to protocataclasites over a zone up to 60-m-thick. These fault rocks are embedded within a low-strain damage zone, up to 150-m-thick, which includes strongly altered volumes of dilatational hydrothermal breccias and clusters of epidote-rich fault-vein networks at the linkage of the BFZ with subsidiary faults. The strong hydrothermal alteration of rocks along both the fault core and the damage zone attests to an extensive percolation of fluids across all the elements of the structural network during the activity of the entire fault zone. In particular, we interpret the epidote-rich fault-vein networks and associated breccias as an exhumed example of upper-crustal fluid-driven earthquake swarms, similar to the presently active intra-arc Liquiñe-Ofqui Fault System (Southern Andean Volcanic Zone, Chile).
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