Understanding the spatio-temporal evolution of fractures in pillow basalt
Keywords:Pillow basalt, Thermal stress, Fractures, Computational simulation, Dharwar craton
We investigated the origin and spatio-temporal evolution of cooling fractures in pillow basalt which undergo thermal contraction after their eruption in an aqueous environment. Through a computer-based simulation using Fourier transformation, the thermo elastic stress displacement profiles within individual pillow units are determined. The scaled model (pillow diameter - 1 meter) generated radial, linear fractures perpendicular to pillow margin and irregular discrete flaws in the pillow interior like the ones observed in natural examples. Radial linear fractures of 3–5 centimetre in length have been measured in pillows of average one-metre diameter from the Maradihalli region, in the Chitradurga Schist Belt, India. An estimated time of 94–118 minutes was required to get radial fractures of similar length in the simulation. Our model efficiently replicated the generation and distribution of thermal fractures and allowed an estimation of cooling time for the peripheral glassy zone but has limitations in deciphering the formation of fracture networks in progressively crystalline inner zone of pillows.
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