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Effects of topography on the curvature of fold-and-thrust belts during shortening of a 2-layer model of continental lithosphere

Abstract : We have used analogue experiments to investigate the effects of surface topography on the curvature of fold-and-thrust belts, under conditions of (1) initial relief, but no erosion, and (2) no initial relief, but differential erosion, sedimentation and transport. In experiments where a 2-layer model lithosphere shortened and thickened in front of an advancing straight piston, the geometry of the developing thrust wedge was very sensitive to variations in surface topography. In models with an initially flat, horizontal surface, and in the absence of erosion and sedimentation, thrusts were straight, propagated forwards, and nucleated at buckle folds far in front of an advancing piston. Around an initial topographic high (plateau or cone), thrusts tended to be arcuate, forming salients towards the foreland. Initial plateaux and cones tended to behave rigidly, while arcuate thrust slices formed around them. To accommodate differential slip, transfer zones developed on both sides of initial highs. Fault blocks rotated about vertical axes and thrusts moved in oblique slip within transfer zones. In models with initially horizontal surfaces, which were subject to differential erosion, sedimentation and transport, thrusts initially were straight, but then progressively rotated around non-eroded, thickened and stronger areas. These worked as indenters, in front of which new thrusts nucleated at curved buckle folds. These thrusts were also curved, their apices being in front of the thickened, non-eroded areas. In nature, arcuate structural patterns are to be found around the Altiplano of the Central Andes and around the Tromen volcanic ridge in the Neuquén Basin of northern Patagonia. We infer that these areas behaved in quasi-rigid fashion, protected as they were by their high elevations, and that differential erosion at the scale of the entire Andes may have contributed to oroclinal bending.
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https://hal.archives-ouvertes.fr/hal-00115912
Contributor : Isabelle Dubigeon <>
Submitted on : Friday, November 24, 2006 - 10:59:01 AM
Last modification on : Thursday, January 14, 2021 - 11:45:46 AM

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F.O. Marques, P.R. Cobbold. Effects of topography on the curvature of fold-and-thrust belts during shortening of a 2-layer model of continental lithosphere. Tectonophysics, Elsevier, 2006, 415 (1-4), pp.65-80. ⟨10.1016/j.tecto.2005.12.001⟩. ⟨hal-00115912⟩

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