Mechanisms of sill and dyke intrusion.
Kattenhorn, Simon Allen.
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Mechanisms of sill and dyke intrusion require an understanding of fracture growth,stress distributions and intensities, dilation,intrusion rates, hydraulic pressure,host-rock effects,en echelon fracture arrays,and flow direction. The methods of previous studies have been applied to natural sill and dyke examples of the Karoo Igneous Province in northern Natal . An en echelon array of Jurassic dolerite sills occurs within Permian Ecca sediments along the Mhlatuze River, west of Empangeni. Dolerite emplacement occurred as two intrusive phases. The first phase resulted in thick, . coarse-grained dolerite sills. The second phase produced relatively thinner, fme-grained sills. The intrusion of fmegrained dolerite into older sills is demonstrated by abrupt variations in the whole-rock and mineral geochemistry profiles across the sills. Syn-crystallisation effects such as crystal settling and fractionation, and post-crystallisation hydrothermal activity is also manifested in the mineralogical and geochemical changes across the sills. The fine grained doleriteis associated with xenolithic dolerite which represents a contaminated magma propagation front of the fine-grained dolerite. The higher viscosity of the xenolithic dolerite hindered propagation, and was thus overtaken and engulfedby the mainmagmapulse. Consistent sinistral off setting of sill segments is interpreted to be the result of a fingered sill periphery intruding an en echelon fracture array. Dilation of individual segments, or fingers, occurred simultaneously. Subsequent interaction of near-tip stresses induced inwardly propagating curvature of adjacent segmentsin the array.Resultant linkage has produced a stepped-sill geometry; sill propagation and flow directions were orthogonal to the plane of linkage. The flow direction is confirmed by shape preferred-orientations of acicular mineral grains within the chilled margins of the sills, indicating the direction of flow to be perpendicular to the plane of the en echelon array, and parallel to strike directions of offset surfaces that link adjacent sill segments. Multiple dyke intrusion is examinedat an outcrop of the Rooi Rand Dyke Swarm, along the Pongola River. Individual intrusive episodes are identifiable on the basis of chill-zone relationships. The pattern along the Pongola River suggests that younger intrusive episodes frequently intrude through the centres of older dykes. A three dimensional analysis of en echelon dyke let segments allows a re-construction of the dilation history,and provides an explanation for the development of blunt-ended intrusion segments. Mineral geochemistry anomalies around dyke tips suggests possible facilitation of incipient fracture via decreases in mineral strengths manifested by geochemical changes. A statistical digital analysis of micro-phenocryst orientations within chilled dyke margins is shown to provide a viable method to ascertain magma flow directions within dykes, and may thus be a useful tool for future investigations.