2D distinct element modeling of the structure and growth of normal faults in multilayer sequences : 2. Impact of confining pressure and strength contrast on fault zone growth and geometry

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Title: 2D distinct element modeling of the structure and growth of normal faults in multilayer sequences : 2. Impact of confining pressure and strength contrast on fault zone growth and geometry
Authors: Schöpfer, Martin P. J.
Childs, Conrad
Walsh, John J.
Permanent link: http://hdl.handle.net/10197/3034
Date: 2007
Abstract: The growth of normal faults in periodically layered sequences with varying strength contrast and at varying confining pressure is modeled using the Distinct Element Method. The normal faulting models are comprised of strong layers (bonded particles) and weak layers (non-bonded particles) that are deformed using a predefined fault at the base of the sequence. The model results suggest that faults in sequences with high strength contrast at low confining pressure are highly segmented due to different types of failure (extension vs. shear failure) in the different layers. The degree of segmentation decreases as the strength contrast decreases and confining pressure increases. Faults at low confining pressure localize as extension (Mode I) fractures within the strong layers and are later linked via shallow dipping faults in the weak ones. This leads to initial staircase geometries that, with increasing displacement, cause space problems that are later resolved by splaying and segmentation. As confining pressure increases the modeled faults show a transition from extension to hybrid and to shear fracture and an associated decrease in fault refraction, with a consequent decrease in fault surface irregularities. Therefore the mode of fracture, which is active in the strong layers of a mechanical multilayer at a particular confining pressure, exerts an important control on the final fault geometry.
Funding Details: Irish Research Council for Science, Engineering and Technology
Type of material: Journal Article
Publisher: American Geophysical Union
Copyright (published version): 2007 by the American Geophysical Union.
Keywords: Faults;Modelling;Multilayer;Confining pressure;Strength
Subject LCSH: Faults (Geology)--Mathematical models
Fault zones--Mathematical models
Rock deformation--Mathematical models
DOI: 10.1029/2006JB004903
Language: en
Status of Item: Peer reviewed
Appears in Collections:Earth Sciences Research Collection

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