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# 12.

113StructuralGeology
Part5:Strikeslipfaulting
Fall2005
Contents
2 Requiredjargon 1
3 Notes 1
3.1 Characteristicsofstrike-slipfaults . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1
3.2 Relationshipsbetweenstrike-slipfaultsandcompressiveorextensional
structures . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2
3.3 Whathappenstostrike-slipfaultsatdepth? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2
3.4 Systemsofstrike-slipfaults . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3
4 Reviewquestions 4
Chapter7inTMisashortchapteronstrikeslipfaults.Itsparticularlygoodatdeal-
ingwiththeproblemsofkinematiccompatibility: thisisthenotionthatinformsa
lotofanalysisofhowfaultsystems"worktogether". Inparticular,lookatthedis-
cussionofhowstrikeslipfaultsterminate;theroleoftearandtransferfaults;why
mountainrangesandsedimentarybasinsarefoundatbendsinstrikeslipfaults;the
descriptionoftheactivetectonicsofSouthernCalifornia. Lookatthemaps,draw
simpliedcartoonsthatshowhowallthefaults"worktogether".
2 Requiredjargon
Youshouldbefamiliarandknowthesignicanceofthefollowingterms. Drawing
littlecartoonsoftheseisaverygoodstrategyforkeepingtrackofallthejargonand
beingabletoreallylearnthegeometrysothatyoucanrecognizethestructureout
innature.
Piercingpointenechelonfoldsowerstructuretransferfaulttearfault
transformfaultpull-apartbasinrestrainingbendreleasingbendtranspression
transtension.
3 Notes
3.1 Characteristicsofstrike-slipfaults
Strike-slipfaultsarefaultswithverylittleverticalcomponentofmotion,i.e.:theslip
vectorisnearlyparallelwiththestrikeline. Strike-slipfaultsaretypicallysteepor
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verticalandinAndersonianfaulttheoryareassociatedwithastressregimewhere
bothmaximumandminimumstressesarenearhorizontal.
3.2 Relationshipsbetweenstrike-slipfaultsandcompressiveorex-
tensionalstructures
Oftenamajorstrikeslipfault(thinktheSanAndreasortheNorthAnatolianfaultin
Turkey)isassociatedwithmanysecondaryextensionalorcompressivestructures.
Some of these are related to distributed strain around the fault zone partic-
ularly before the fault has localized. If a wide zone is accommodating strain, we
canpredicttheorientationandrotationofextensionalstructures(tensionfractures,
normalfaults)andcompressivestructures(thrustfaults,folds)accordingtoourun-
derstandingoftheprogressiveevolutionofthenitestrainellipseinplanestrain,
simpleshear. Thesesecondarystructuresoftenformen-echelonarraysoffoldsor
fractures.
Other secondary structures follow from kinematic compatibility: if a straight
strikeslipfaulttakesabendorajog,theneitherabasin(pull-apartbasinatareleas-
ingbend)orathrustboundrange(ataconstrainingbend)needstobegingrowing
tosolvethespaceproblemthatresultsfromtryingtomovematerialparalleltothe
strikeoftherange.
Manycross-sectionsofreleasingorrestrainingbendsshowsthatthenormalor
thrustfaultsassociatedwiththerestrainingorreleasingbendmergeintothestrike
slipfaultatdepth.Thesearecalledowerstructures.
Finally,inareasthataredominatedbyextensionalorcompressionalstructures,
strikeslipfaultsarecommonlyfoundinordertotransferdeformationfromonefault
toanother. Thisisespeciallytrueattheterminationsoffaults. Transformfaultsin
the oceans occur because spreading ridges form initially offset from one another
(theydonotoffsettheridge, theyarerequiredbytheoffsetoftheridge). Incon-
tinentalextensionalterrains, thekinematicallyequivalentstructureisknownasa
transferfault. Incompressiveenvironments,abruptchangesintheamountofdis-
placementalongathrustfaultcanbeaccommodatedbytearfaults.
3.3 Whathappenstostrike-slipfaultsatdepth?
Manystrikeslipfaultsareidealizedasbeingverticalcutsgoing,presumably,allthe
waytothecore-mantleboundary.Intruth,thegeometryofapparentlyverticalstrike
slipfaultsisquitevariablewithdepth.
One example has been alluded to above: ower structures are associations of
thrustornormalfaultsthatmergeintoamasterstrikeslipfaultatdepth. Theyare
oftenassociatedwithrestrainingorreleasingbend.
Astrikeslipfaultthatboundsafoldandthrustbelt(thusaccommodatingthe
differentialmotionofthethrustbeltfromanundeformedregion)neednotpene-
tratedeeperthanthedecollementofthethrustbelt. (Seegures7.10aand7.14for
examples).
Forotherstrikeslipfaults,thechangeingeometrywithdepthisnotabundantly
clear.Foronething,atgreaterdepths,themechanismsofdeformationwillbeones
thataccommodateductileow(why?),andsowecanexpectsomechangesinfault
ofmyloniticrocksatdepth.Butifthemiddleandlowercrustisveryweak,itiscon-
ceivablethatthefaultdiesoutintothelower,uidlikelayer.Alongtheselines,there
are two end-members of description of strike slip faults in the continental crust.
The rst is a plate boundary model, where the strike slip fault is a lithosphere-
penetratingstructure(butdiesoutintheductile,owingasthenosphere). Alterna-
tively,somefaultsdonotpenetratepasttheupperormiddlecrust,andtheupper
crustbecomesessentiallydecoupledfromtheowinglowercrust.
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Figure1:Systemsofstrike-slipfaultsandblockrotations.
Transpressive plate boundaries Transpression refers to a combination of strike
slip(translational)andcompressionalmotion. Atranspressiveplateboundaryis
onewheretherelativeplateconvergencevectorisneitherparallelnorperpendicular
totheplatemargin.Transpressiveplateboundariesarerathercommon,andinclude
theSumatraplateboundary. Inthesezones,therelativeplatemotioniscommonly
partitioned into separate structures this is exactly analogous to breaking a vec-
torintoseparatecomponents. InSumatra,muchofthestrike-slip(plateboundary
parallel)componentoftherelativeplatemotionvectoristakenupbyaprominent
strikeslipfaultlocatednearthevolcanicarc(thelocalizationofthestrikeslipfault
wherethecrustisweakestisnoaccident). Thequestionthatarises,then, iswhat
happenstothefaults(i.e. thesubductionzonemegathrustandthestrikeslipfault
alongthearc)atdepth.Doesthestrikeslipfaultcutthemegathrustorvice-versa?
3.4 Systemsofstrike-slipfaults
Inmanyareas, manystrikeslipfaultstogetherformacomplexpatternthatisnot
immediatelyobvioushowtointerpret. Intheseplaces,strikeslipfaultsdenethe
boundariesofcrustalfragmentsorblockswhosedeformationcanbecharacterized
byverticalaxisrotation. Theoveralleffectofasystemconsistingofamosaicofro-
ternatively,blockrotationmaybearesponsetobeingcaughtbetweentwoindepen-
zoneofdiffuseshearisaccommodatedcanbethoughtofastopplingdominoesor
booksonashelfandpartsofthecomplexdeformationofsouthernCalifornia(par-
ticularlytheMojaveblock)canbeunderstoodinthisway.Inthisexample,thestrike
slipfaultsareantithetictotheoverallsenseofshearofthezone.
Alternatively, rotating blocks may owe their rotation to their being caught be-
tweentwoindependentstrikeslipfaults.Inthiscase(rightsideofthegure),faults
boundingtherotatingblockswillbesyntheticwithrespecttotheboundingfaults.
Distinguishingbetweenthesetwomodelsofblockrotationhascertainimplications
forwhatdrivesblockrotation.
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4 Reviewquestions
1. Drawtheassociateden-echelonfoldsandtensionfracturesyouwouldexpectto
beassociatedwithaleft-lateral(sinistral)strikeslipfault.
example (meaning it is the example that motivated the denition) of a pull-apart
basin.WhatisthesenseofshearontheDeathValleyfault?
3. TothesouthofDeathValleyistheE-WstrikingGarlockfault. TheGarlock
faultisthetypeexampleofatransferfault:inthiscaseitaccommodatesdifferential
extensionofthecrusttoitsnorthandsouth. WhatisthesenseofshearontheGar-
lockfault?FollowthefaultuntilitsjunctionwiththeSanAndreas.Whatisthesense
ofshearontheSanAndreas?Howdothosetwofaultsinteract(i.e.doesonecutthe
other,dotheymutuallydeformoneanother)?
4. FollowtheSanAndreasdowntoLosAngeles. FindtheBigBendoftheSan
Andreas(goingsouth,ittakesabigjogtotheeasttojoinupwiththeSaltonSeaand
theGulfofCalifornia).IstheBigBendareleasingbendorarestrainingbend?
5.Explaintheconceptofkinematiccompatibility.
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