Generation of billow-like wavy folds by fluidization at high temperature in Nojima fault gouge: Microscopic and rock magnetic perspectives

Tomohiko Fukuzawa, Norihiro Nakamura, Hirokuni Oda, Minoru Uehara, Hiroyuki Nagahama

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Microscopic billow-like wavy folds have been observed along slip planes of the Nojima active fault, southwest Japan. The folds are similar in form to Kelvin-Helmholtz (KH) instabilities occurring in fluids, which implies that the slip zone underwent "lubrication" such as frictional melting or fluidization of fault gouge materials. If the temperature range for generation of the billow-like wavy folds can be determined, we can constrain the physical properties of fault gouge materials during seismic slip. Here, we report on rock magnetic studies that identify seismic slip zones associated with the folds, and their temperature rises during ancient seismic slips of the Nojima active fault. Using a scanning magneto-impedance magnetic microscope and a scanning superconducting quantum interference device microscope, we observed surface stray magnetic field distributions over the folds, indicating that the folds and slip zones are strongly magnetized. This is due to the production of magnetite through thermal decomposition of antiferromagnetic or paramagnetic minerals in the gouge at temperatures over 350°C. The presence of micrometer-sized finely comminuted materials in the billow-like wavy folds, along with our rock magnetic results, suggests that frictional heating-induced fluidization was the driving mechanism of faulting. We found that the existence of the magnetized KH-type billow-like wavy folds supports that the low-viscosity fluid induced by fluidization after frictional heating decreased the frictional strength of the fault slip zone.

Original languageEnglish
Article number54
Journalearth, planets and space
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2017 Dec 1


  • Frictional heating
  • KH instability
  • MI magnetic microscope
  • Nojima fault
  • Rock magnetism
  • Scanning SQUID microscope

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geology
  • Space and Planetary Science


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