Michael K Sly, Arashdeep S Thind, Rohan Mishra, Katharine M Flores, Philip Skemer Geophysical Journal International (2019)
Low-temperature plastic rheology of calcite plays a significant role in the dynamics of Earth’s crust. However, it is technically challenging to study plastic rheology at low temperatures because of the high confining pressures required to inhibit fracturing. Micromechanical tests, such as nanoindentation and micropillar compression, can provide insight into plastic rheology under these conditions because, due to the small scale, plastic deformation can be achieved at low temperatures without the need for secondary confinement. In this study, nanoindentation and micropillar compression experiments were performed on oriented grains within a polycrystalline sample of Carrara marble at temperatures ranging from 23 to 175° C, using a nanoindenter. Indentation hardness is acquired directly from nanoindentation experiments. These data are then used to calculate yield stress as a function of temperature using numerical approaches that model the stress state under the indenter. Indentation data are complemented by uniaxial micropillar compression experiments. Cylindrical micropillars ∼1 μm and ∼3 μm in diameter were fabricated using a focused ion beam-based micromachining technique. Yield stress in micropillar experiments is determined directly from the applied load and micropillar dimensions. Mechanical data are fit to constitutive flow laws for low-temperature plasticity and compared to extrapolations of similar flow laws from high-temperature experiments. This study also considered the effects of crystallographic orientation on yield stress in calcite. Although there is a clear orientation dependence to plastic yielding, this effect is relatively small in comparison to the influence of temperature.