Experimental models are used to study the role of material rheology in hanging wall accommodation above rigid flat–ramp–flat thrust footwalls. The deformation in the hanging wall was accomplished by forwards sliding along a rigid basal staircase trajectory with a variable ramp angle, α , ranging from 15° to 60°. We model different ramp angles to examine hanging wall accommodation styles above thrust ramps of overthrust faults ( α ranging from 15° to 30°), as well as above pre-existing normal faults ( α ranging from 45° to 60°). For the hanging walls we used stratified frictional (sand) and viscous (silicone putty) materials. In this paper we study three types of models. Type 1 models represent purely frictional hanging walls where accommodation above thrust ramps was by layer-parallel thickening and by generating a series of back thrusts. Type 2 and 3 models represent stratified frictional/viscous hanging walls. In these models, accommodation was by a complex association of reverse and normal faults, mainly controlled by the rheological anisotropy as well as by the ramp inclination angle α . In Type 2 models the silicone covered only the lower flat, while in Type 3 models it also covered the rigid ramp. For α ≤30° in Type 2 models and α ≤45° in Type 3 models, the viscous layer inhibited the development of back thrusts in the frictional hanging wall, instead the silicone thickened to develop a ‘ductile ramp’. For α -values higher than 30° in Type 2 models and α =45° in Type 3 models, back thrusts develop in response to the bulk compression. The experiments simulate many structures observed above natural thrust ramps with α ≤30° and pre-existing normal faults with α ≥45°. The models emphasise the importance of a basal ductile layer, which allows the hanging wall to step-up over the rigid ramp by building up its own ductile ramp. The models also emphasise that foreland-directed normal faulting can develop at a thrust front in the case that the vertical stress due to gravity exceeds the horizontal stress due to end-loading within a thrust wedge.
Journal of Structural Geology – Elsevier
Published: Aug 1, 2000
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