Microscopic processes control crustal behaviour

The rheology and transport properties of the Earth's crust exert a strong control on its large scale geological evolution. Remarkably, these are themselves controlled by microphysical processes like crystal defect motion, recrystallization or diffusion. Of particular importance is the rate of deformation due to these processes, which is typically described by creep equations or flow laws. One of the aims of the Experimental Rock Deformation Group is to gain insight into these microphysical processes and to quantify them. This is done by performing deformation experiments at in-situ temperature and pressure in the HPT laboratory. 

Probing the microstructure of deformed rocks

An important aspect of our work is the analysis of the microstructure of deformed rocks, for which we use scanning and transmission electron microscopy and a range of spectroscopic methods (FTIR, impedance spectroscopy). Our experimental work is complemented by microphysical modelling studies. Typical results comprise relations between deformation conditions and microscopic rock properties. Our findings can be used to understand and predict phenomena such as compaction of sedimentary rocks, bulk deformation of the crust or localization of deformation in lithospheric scale fault zones.