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Growth and interaction of normal faults and fault network evolution in rifts: insights from three-dimensional discrete element modelling

By
Emma Finch
Emma Finch
School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Manchester, Oxford Road, Manchester M13 9PL, UK
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Rob Gawthorpe
Rob Gawthorpe
Department of Earth Science, University of Bergen, Allégaten 41, 5007 Bergen, Norway
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Published:
January 01, 2017

Abstract:

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 oblique to one another. Finally, deformation localizes onto the largest faults. Displacement distribution on faults is highly variable with marked along-strike and temporal variations in displacement rates. Displacement maxima continuously migrate as smaller fault segments interact and link to form the final fault plane. As a result, displacement maxima associated with fault nucleation sites are not coincident with the location of the maximum finite displacement on a fault where segment linkage overprints the record. The observed style of fault growth is consistent with the isolated growth model in the earliest stages which then gives way to a coherent (constant-length) fault growth model at greater strains.

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Contents

Geological Society, London, Special Publications

The Geometry and Growth of Normal Faults

C. Childs
C. Childs
University College Dublin, Ireland
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R. E. Holdsworth
R. E. Holdsworth
University of Durham, UK
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C. A.-L. Jackson
C. A.-L. Jackson
Imperial College, UK
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T. Manzocchi
T. Manzocchi
University College Dublin, Ireland
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J. J. Walsh
J. J. Walsh
University College Dublin, Ireland
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G. Yielding
G. Yielding
Badley Geoscience Ltd, UK
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Geological Society of London
Volume
439
ISBN electronic:
9781862399716
Publication date:
January 01, 2017

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