Mechanical and geological controls on the long-term evolution of normal faults
Olive, Jean-Arthur L.
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This thesis investigates the long-term evolution of rift-bounding normal faults in extensional environments. My main objective is to develop a theoretical framework that explains the controls on maximum fault offset in terms of a few key mechanical and geological controls. In Chapter 2, I propose that flexural rotation of the active fault plane enables faults to evolve along a path of minimal energy, thereby enhancing their life span. In Chapter 3, I show that surface processes can increase the life span of continental faults by reducing the energy cost of topography build-up. In Chapter 4, I focus on lithospheric bending induced by fault growth. I demonstrate that numerical models that treat the lithosphere as a visco-plastic solid properly predict fault evolution only when the rate-dependent viscous flexural wavelength of the lithosphere is accommodated within the numerical domain. In Chapter 5, I investigate the growth of normal faults in relation to a depth-variable rate of magma emplacement. These models predict both faulting styles and crustal architecture at slow mid-ocean ridges. Finally, in Chapter 6 I use a newly developed 3-D numerical model to establish a relation between along-axis fault continuity and spatial heterogeneities in lithospheric thickness at a ridge segment.
Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution February 2015
Suggested CitationThesis: Olive, Jean-Arthur L., "Mechanical and geological controls on the long-term evolution of normal faults", 2015-02, DOI:10.1575/1912/7193, https://hdl.handle.net/1912/7193
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