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Analogue and numerical sandbox models

January 01, 2006


We report a direct comparison of scaled analogue experiments to test the reproducibility of model results among ten different experimental modelling laboratories. We present results for two experiments: a brittle thrust wedge experiment and a brittle-viscous extension experiment. The experimental set-up, the model construction technique, the viscous material and the base and wall properties were prescribed. However, each laboratory used its own frictional analogue material and experimental apparatus. Comparison of results for the shortening experiment highlights large differences in model evolution that may have resulted from (1) differences in boundary conditions (indenter or basal-pull models), (2) differences in model widths, (3) location of observation (for example, sidewall versus centre of model), (4) material properties, (5) base and sidewall frictional properties, and (6) differences in set-up technique of individual experimenters. Six laboratories carried out the shortening experiment with a mobile wall. The overall evolution of their models is broadly similar, with the development of a thrust wedge characterized by forward thrust propagation and by back thrusting. However, significant variations are observed in spacing between thrusts, their dip angles, number of forward thrusts and back thrusts, and surface slopes. The structural evolution of the brittle-viscous extension experiments is similar to a high degree. Faulting initiates in the brittle layers above the viscous layer in close vicinity to the basal velocity discontinuity. Measurements of fault dip angles and fault spacing vary among laboratories. Comparison of experimental results indicates an encouraging overall agreement in model evolution, but also highlights important variations in the geometry and evolution of the resulting structures that may be induced by differences in modelling materials, model dimensions, experimental set-ups and observation location.

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Geological Society, London, Special Publications

Analogue and Numerical Modelling of Crustal-Scale Processes

S. J. H. Buiter
S. J. H. Buiter
Geological Survey of Norway, Trondheim, Norway
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G. Schreurs
G. Schreurs
University of Bern, Switzerland
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Geological Society of London
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Publication date:
January 01, 2006




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