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Modes of extensional faulting controlled by surface processes

Olive, Jean-Arthur and Behn, Mark D. and Malatesta, Luca C. (2014) Modes of extensional faulting controlled by surface processes. Geophysical Research Letters, 41 (19). pp. 6725-6733. ISSN 0094-8276.

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We investigate the feedbacks between surface processes and tectonics in an extensional setting by coupling a 2-D geodynamical model with a landscape evolution law. Focusing on the evolution of a single normal fault, we show that surface processes significantly enhance the amount of horizontal extension a fault can accommodate before being abandoned in favor of a new fault. In simulations with very slow erosion rates, a 15 km thick brittle layer extends via a succession of crosscutting short-lived faults (heave < 5 km). By contrast, when erosion rates are comparable to the regional extension velocity, deformation is accommodated on long-lived faults (heave >10 km). Using simple scaling arguments, we quantify the effect of surface mass removal on the force balance acting on a growing normal fault. This leads us to propose that the major range-bounding normal faults observed in many continental rifts owe their large offsets to erosional and depositional processes.

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Additional Information:© 2014. American Geophysical Union. Accepted manuscript online: 26 Sep 2014. Manuscript Accepted: 22 Sep 2014. Manuscript Revised: 19 Sep 2014. Manuscript Received: 12 Aug 2014. Article first published online: 9 Oct 2014. The authors wish to thank Don Forsyth, Brian Yanites, and Eric Mittelstaedt as well as Taylor Perron and his group for fruitful discussions. This work was supported by NSF grants OCE-1154238 and EAR-1010432. Input files and scripts used for the numerical simulations are available upon request by emailing the corresponding author at The Editor thanks Phaedra Upton and one anonymous reviewer for their assistance in evaluating this paper.
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Subject Keywords:extensional tectonics; normal faults; surface processes; erosion; continental rift
Issue or Number:19
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20141218-093500529
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Official Citation:Olive, J.-A., M. D. Behn, and L. C. Malatesta (2014), Modes of extensional faulting controlled by surface processes, Geophys. Res. Lett., 41, 6725–6733, doi:10.1002/2014GL061507.
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:53008
Deposited By: Ruth Sustaita
Deposited On:18 Dec 2014 23:02
Last Modified:03 Oct 2019 07:46

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