The mechanical and microstructural behaviour of calcite-dolomite composites: An experimental investigation

Alexandra R. l. Kushnir, L. A. Kennedy, Santanu Misra, Philip Benson, J. C. White

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The styles and mechanisms of deformation associated with many variably dolomitized limestone shear systems are strongly controlled by strain partitioning between dolomite and calcite. Here, we present experimental results from the deformation of four composite materials designed to address the role of dolomite on the strength of limestone. Composites were synthesized by hot isostatic pressing mixtures of dolomite (Dm) and calcite powders (% Dm: 25%-Dm, 35%-Dm, 51%-Dm, and 75%-Dm). In all composites, calcite is finer grained than dolomite. The synthesized materials were deformed in torsion at constant strain rate (3 × 10−4 and 1 × 10−4 s−1), high effective pressure (262 MPa), and high temperature (750 °C) to variable finite shear strains. Mechanical data show an increase in yield strength with increasing dolomite content. Composites with <75% dolomite (the remaining being calcite), accommodate significant shear strain at much lower shear stresses than pure dolomite but have significantly higher yield strengths than anticipated for 100% calcite. The microstructure of the fine-grained calcite suggests grain boundary sliding, accommodated by diffusion creep and dislocation glide. At low dolomite concentrations (i.e. 25%), the presence of coarse-grained dolomite in a micritic calcite matrix has a profound effect on the strength of composite materials as dolomite grains inhibit the superplastic flow of calcite aggregates. In high (>50%) dolomite content samples, the addition of 25% fine-grained calcite significantly weakens dolomite, such that strain can be partially localized along narrow ribbons of fine-grained calcite. Deformation of dolomite grains by shear fracture is observed; there is no intracrystalline deformation in dolomite irrespective of its relative abundance and finite shear strain.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)200-216
JournalJournal of Structural Geology
Early online date19 Dec 2014
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2015


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