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Finite strain variations along strike in mountain belts

D. Hindle
D. Hindle
GeoForschungsZentrum Potsdam Projektbereich 3.1, Telegrafenberg C223, D-14473 Potsdam, Germany (e-mail: hindle@
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January 01, 2003


In order to quantify finite strain from displacement fields derived from structural restorations in mountain belts, a simple technique using triangular elements (based on the finite element technique) is presented. This adequately describes the discontinuous displacement of a fold-thrust belt, whilst overcoming the difficulties posed by discontinuities which are integrated across appropriate elements for the purpose of strain calculation. The technique has been applied to two fold-thrust belts at contrasting scales, the Central Andes and the Neuchâtel region of the Jura mountains (Switzerland). In both cases, structural restorations have produced the finite displacement fields thought to be involved in their generation. Subsequent calculation of strain variation along strike shows that there is a strong relationship between first-order structure (the scale of major fold axes) and the trends of axis orientations. In spite of the contractional setting of both belts, strong along-strike extension is predicted but this is always in the context of a generally parallel to slightly convergent displacement field, and such extensions are generally related to differential shear accommodated on strike-slip or tear faults. Most elements showing along-strike extension are nevertheless predicted to undergo tectonic thickening. Second-order structures (faults necessary to accommodate local predicted deformation) are also calculated and the enormous difference between slip directions on small-scale faults and the regional ‘far field’ displacement direction is demonstrated. This is thought to be important when trying to infer large-scale tectonic information from very small-scale structures found in the field.

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Geological Society, London, Special Publications

New Insights into Structural Interpretation and Modelling

D. A. Nieuwland
D. A. Nieuwland
Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, The Netherlands
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Geological Society of London
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Publication date:
January 01, 2003




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