The effect of weathering on cohesion in granitic fault rocks: A case study from the Yeongdeok Fault, South Korea

Jae Hoon Kim, Jin Han Ree, Wataru Tanikawa, Hee Cheol Kang

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Weathering can alter fault-rock cohesion, which is an important criterion in the classification of fault rocks, and can also alter fault-rock mechanical and hydraulic properties. To investigate the effects of weathering on fault rocks, we studied relatively fresh and weathered fault rocks collected from a drill core and outcrop, respectively, of a granitic fault zone (the Yeongdeok Fault, a northern branch of the Yangsan Fault) on the southeastern Korean Peninsula. At the studied outcrop, the Yeongdeok Fault has juxtaposed Triassic granite against Cretaceous sedimentary rocks. Granitic fault rocks in the outcrop are incohesive, whereas the drill core includes both cohesive and incohesive granitic fault rocks. A detailed correlation of the fault rocks from the drill core with those from the outcrop reveals that some incohesive fault rocks from the outcrop are weathered cataclasite. Cataclasites from the drill core are composed of feldspar, plagioclase, and quartz fragments embedded in a matrix of quartz, plagioclase, muscovite, and chlorite. Locally, foliation defined by the preferred orientation of muscovite is developed. The weathered cataclasite comprises quartz, plagioclase, and feldspar fragments, with a fine-grained matrix composed mostly of clay minerals. The measured Chemical Index of Alteration (CIA) values for cataclasite and weathered cataclasite are 47–49 and 60–67, respectively. Measurements of hydraulic properties show that weathered cataclasite has higher porosity and permeability compared with unweathered cataclasite. Physical and chemical weathering are interpreted to have increased the fracture density of the weathered cataclasite and enhanced the dissolution of vein minerals, respectively. These processes have not only contributed to the higher permeability and porosity of the weathered (cf. unweathered) cataclasite but have also resulted in a loss of cohesion. When cohesion is lost due to weathering, distinguishing between cataclasite and fault breccia becomes challenging. Our study demonstrates that the cohesion-based classification of fault rocks becomes limited for fault rocks with CIA value more than 60.

Original languageEnglish
Article number105061
JournalJournal of Structural Geology
Publication statusPublished - 2024 Feb

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2024 Elsevier Ltd


  • Cataclasite
  • Fault breccia
  • Fault rock
  • Hydraulic properties
  • Weathering
  • Yeongdeok Fault

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geology


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