The significance and application of Foliation Intersection/Inflection Axes (FIA) within porphyroblasts: A review

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An increasing number of structural and metamorphic studies throughout the past sixty years have shown the importance of using porphyroblast microstructures to gain further understanding of deformation and metamorphic history and mechanisms. A recent very significant advance has been the development of techniques for the measurement of Foliation Intersection/Inflection Axes (FIAs) preserved within porphyroblasts. FIAs provide a quantitative method of microstructural analysis that enables the direct linkage and integration of the deformation, metamorphic and tectonic history. The FIA technique determines the orientation of or the axis curvature of a foliation effected by an overprinting event, or the intersection lineation between successive foliations, preserved as inclusion trails within porphyroblasts. Because the axis is determined completely independent of the model of formation of these included foliations, it allows such models to be thoroughly tested. The method involves three-dimensional examination of microstructures within porphyroblasts in several vertically orientated thin sections that fan around the compass and which have been cut from spatially orientated samples. FIA measurements allow reconstruction, correlation and dating of regional and large-scale deformation and metamorphic histories. Such reconstructions of the tectonic evolution had been conducted in several orogenies around the world. New insights include (1) the intimate control of deformation partitioning on metamorphic reactions, (2) a possible technique for determining the direction of relative plate motion within ancient orogens, and (3) the role of rotation versus non-rotation of porphyroblasts relative to geographical coordinates during deformation have also been raised.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)401-419
Number of pages19
JournalTerrestrial, Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2003 Dec


  • FIA
  • Foliation
  • Microstructure
  • Porphyroblast

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oceanography
  • Atmospheric Science
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)

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