Microstructural analysis of a mylonitic mantle xenolith sheared at laboratory-like strain rates from the edge of the wyoming craton

Yuval Boneh, Emily J. Chin, Greg Hirth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Combined observations from natural and experimental deformation microstructures are often used to constrain the rheological properties of the upper mantle. However, relating natural and experimental deformation processes typically requires orders of magnitude extrapolation in strain rate due to vastly different time scales between nature and the lab. We examined a sheared peridotite xenolith that was deformed under strain rates comparable to laboratory shearing time scales. Microstructure analysis using an optical microscope and electron backscatter diffraction (EBSD) was done to characterize the bulk crystallographic preferred orientation (CPO), intragrain misorientations, subgrain boundaries, and spatial distribution of grains. We found that the microstructure varied between monophase (olivine) and multiphase (i.e., olivine, pyroxene, and garnet) bands. Olivine grains in the monophase bands had stronger CPO, larger grain size, and higher internal misorientations compared with olivine grains in the multiphase bands. The bulk olivine CPO suggests a dominant (010)[100] and secondary activated (001)[100] that are consistent with the experimentally observed transition of the A to E-types. The bulk CPO and intragrain misorientations of olivine and orthopyroxene suggest that a coarser-grained initial fabric was deformed by dislocation creep coeval with the reduction of grain size due to dynamic recrystallization. Comparing the deformation mechanisms inferred from the microstructure with experimental flow laws indicates that the reduction of grain size in orthopyroxene promotes activation of diffusion creep and suggests a high activation volume for wet orthopyroxene dislocation creep.

Original languageEnglish
Article number995
Issue number9
StatePublished - 1 Sep 2021


  • Deformation
  • Mantle
  • Olivine
  • Olivine CPO
  • Wyoming craton
  • Xenolith

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geotechnical Engineering and Engineering Geology
  • Geology


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