A snapshot of the earliest stages of normal fault development

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Ahmed Alghuraybi, Rebecca E. Bell, Chris Jackson


Despite decades of study, models for the growth of normal faults lack a temporal framework within which to understand how these structures accumulate displacement and lengthen through time. Here, we use borehole and high-quality 3D seismic reflection data from offshore Norway to quantify the lateral (0.2-1.8 mmyr-1) and vertical (0.004-0.02 mmyr-1) propagation rates (averaged over 12-44 Myr) for several long (up to 43 km), moderate displacement (up to 225 m) layer-bound faults that we argue provide a unique, essentially ‘fossilised’ snapshot of the earliest stage of fault growth. We show that lateral propagation rates are 90 times faster than displacement rates during the initial 25% of their lifespan suggesting that these faults lengthened much more rapidly than they accrued displacement. Although these faults have slow displacement rates compared with data compiled from 30 previous studies, they have comparable lateral propagation rates. This suggests that the unusual lateral propagation to displacement rate ratio is likely due to fault maturity, which highlights a need to document both displacement and lateral propagation rates to further our understanding of how faults evolve across various temporal and spatial scales.




Earth Sciences, Geology, Tectonics and Structure


normal fault growth, Displacement rate, Lateral propagation rate


Published: 2021-12-22 11:49

Last Updated: 2021-12-22 19:49


CC BY Attribution 4.0 International

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