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The initiation, growth and interaction of faults within an extensional rift is an inherently four-dimensional process where connectivity with time and depth are difficult to constrain. A 3D discrete element model is employed that represents the crust as a two-layered brittle–ductile system in which faults nucleate, propagate and interact in response to local heterogeneities and resulting stresses. Faults nucleate in conjugate sets throughout the model brittle crust; they grow through a combination of tip propagation and interaction of co-linear segments to form larger normal faults. Segment linkage occurs by merging of adjacent fault segments located along strike, downdip or...

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