Kattenhorn, S.A., Aydin, A., Pollard, D.D. (2000)

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Joints at high angles to normal fault strike: an explanation using 3-D numerical models of fault-perturbed stress fields.


Journal of Structural Geology 22, 1-23.

Structural methods based on homogeneous stress states predict that joints growing in an extending crust form with strike orientations identical to normal faults. However, we document a field example where the strikes of genetically related normal faults and joints are almost mutually perpendicular. Field relationships allowed us to constrain the fracture sequence and tectonic environment for fault and joint growth. We hypothesize that fault slip can perturb the surrounding stress field in a manner that controls the orientations of induced secondary structures. Numerical models were used to examine the stress field around normal faults, taking into consideration the effects of 3-D fault shape, geometrical arrangement of overlapping faults, and a range of stress states. The calculated perturbed stress fields around model normal faults indicate that it is possible for joints to form at high angles to fault strike. Such joint growth may occur at the lateral tips of an isolated fault, but is most likely in a relay zone between overlapping faults. However, the angle between joints and faults is also influenced by the remote stress state, and is particularly sensitive to the ratio of fault-parallel to fault-perpendicular stress. As this ratio increases, joints can propagate away from faults at increasingly higher angles to fault strike. We conclude that the combined remote stress state and perturbed local stress field associated with overlapping fault geometries resulted in joint growth at high angles to normal fault strike at a field location in Arches National Park, Utah.

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