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Partially Locked Low‐Angle Normal Faults in Cohesive Upper Crust

Abstract : It is well established that slip on a frictionally weak low-angle normal fault (LANF) can be more favorable than breaking a steep fault in strong crust. Very few studies, however, have considered the specific effect of crust and fault cohesion on LANF viability. We do so using Limit Analysis, a methodology for predicting the optimal orientation of faults with varying strength subjected to a specific set of boundary conditions. Accounting for crustal cohesion in our models reduces the lowest admissible LANF dip and even allows slip on high-friction LANFs if the contrast between crust and fault cohesion is large. Fault cohesion, however, increases the lowest admissible LANF dip and introduces a locking depth above which LANF slip is not mechanically feasible. This is consistent with observations of steep splay faults rooting onto LANFs in a variety of settings. We further demonstrate that locking depth can help constrain LANF cohesion, friction, and fluid pressure on the Alto Tiberina (Italy) and western Corinth (Greece) LANFs. Specifically, assuming a measured fault friction of 0.2-0.3, we find that the shallow locking depth of the Alto Tiberina fault requires either (1) moderate fluid overpressure (57% of lithostatic) with cohesion of 8-12 MPa or (2) strong overpressure (77% of lithostatic) with cohesion of 13-20 MPa along the fault. By contrast, the larger locking depth characterizing the western Corinth LANF can reflect greater fault cohesion.
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Soumis le : mardi 17 novembre 2020 - 15:01:37
Dernière modification le : lundi 23 novembre 2020 - 11:46:11

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X. Yuan, J.‐a. Olive, J. Braun. Partially Locked Low‐Angle Normal Faults in Cohesive Upper Crust. Tectonics, American Geophysical Union (AGU), 2020, 39 (2), pp.e2019TC005753. ⟨10.1029/2019tc005753⟩. ⟨hal-03009963⟩

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