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The role of pre-existing faults in basin evolution: constraints from 2D finite element and 3D flexure models

Van Wees, Jan Diederik and Cloetingh, Sierd and Vicente Muñoz, Gerardo de (1996) The role of pre-existing faults in basin evolution: constraints from 2D finite element and 3D flexure models. In Modern developments in structural interpretation, validation and modelling. Geological Society Special Publication (99). Geological Society, London, pp. 297-332. ISBN 1 897799 43 8

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Abstract

The lithospheric driving forces which cause intraplate basin deformation are relatively constant over large areas. Consequently, lateral variations in deformation and stress and strain concentrations seem to be primarily caused by (pre-existing) heterogenities in the rheological signature of the continental lithosphere underlying the sedimentary basins. In this paper, we explore the weak character of upper crustal faults and their control on basin shape for a number of case studies on intraplate Phanerozoic basin settings, using a 2D finite element and a 3D flexure model. Of key importance is the integration of seismic data and field observations with the tectonic modelling, allowing the investigation of deformation processes and their expressions on different scales, operating on different levels of the lithosphere. Finite element models for sub-basin scales, incorporating weak upper crustal faults, predict strong control of these weak zones on local stress distributions and subsequent deformation, in agreement with observed deformation patterns. Slip along upper crustal faults control stress distribution and subsequent faulting in overlying sedimentary rocks. The effect of weak upper crustal fault movements on basin-wide (regional) upper crustal flexure is looked at in two case studies on:
(1) extensional tectonics in the Lake Tanganyika Rift Zone (East Africa); and (2) compressional tectonics in the Central System and Tajo Basin (Central Spain). Both settings indicate that basement warpings are controlled by large amounts of slip along so-called weak crustal-scale border faults, which are mostly planar. Adopting border fault displacements in the 3D flexure model, the results indicate low effective elastic thickness (EET) values in a range of 3-7 km for induced basement deflection patterns in accordance with observations. The low EET values most likely reflect a (partly) decoupling of upper crustal and subcrustal deformation, facilitated by the weak lower crust, and in agreement with standard rheological assumptions for Phanerozoic lithosphere. In contrast, the inferred weakness of upper crustal faults relative to surrounding rock is not evident from uniform rheological assumptions. However, observations of reactivations of faults which are not preferably aligned with the stress field, and reactivations of basin deformation on long time-scales are in support of this feature.


Item Type:Book Section
Uncontrolled Keywords:Lithospheric deformation
Subjects:Sciences > Geology > Geodynamics
ID Code:6546
Deposited On:03 Dec 2007
Last Modified:06 Feb 2014 07:49

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