Experimental formation of brittle structural assemblages in oblique divergence

J. V. Smith*, D. W. Durney

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    46 Citations (Scopus)


    A series of experiments is reported in which brittle minor structures are initiated in narrow deformation zones in clay under conditions of kinematically controlled oblique divergent displacement. Nineteen settings of boundary displacement angle were used from pure wrench to pure divergence under conditions favouring either faults (dry experiments) or extension fractures (wet experiments). Pure wrench produced the well known assemblage of Riedel strike-slip faults whereas experiments in pure divergence produced conjugate arrays of normal faults and extension fractures with a dihedral angle of 30° bisected by the direction of the zone, as has been described in rift zones. Experiments with boundary displacements at intermediate settings show a continuum of structural orientations and dihedral angles between these two extremes. A boundary between assemblages dominated by strike-slip faults and extensional faults was found at a displacement angle of 45° from the deformation zone. These results are interpreted kinematically in terms of: (1) principal axes of infinitesimal incremental strain; (2) material dilatancy control on shear structure dihedral angles; and (3) whether the vertical strain in divergent wrench settings is a thickening (strike-slip assemblage) or a thinning (normal fault assemblage).

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)235-253
    Number of pages19
    Issue number3-4
    Publication statusPublished - 31 Dec 1992


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