Frontiers of Earth Science

, Volume 12, Issue 1, pp 17–23 | Cite as

Factors that affect coseismic folds in an overburden layer

Research Article


Coseismic folds induced by blind thrust faults have been observed in many earthquake zones, and they have received widespread attention from geologists and geophysicists. Numerous studies have been conducted regarding fold kinematics; however, few have studied fold dynamics quantitatively. In this paper, we establish a conceptual model with a thrust fault zone and tectonic stress load to study the factors that affect coseismic folds and their formation mechanisms using the finite element method. The numerical results show that the fault dip angle is a key factor that controls folding. The greater the dip angle is, the steeper the fold slope. The second most important factor is the overburden thickness. The thicker the overburden is, the more gradual the fold. In this case, folds are difficult to identify in field surveys. Therefore, if a fold can be easily identified with the naked eye, the overburden is likely shallow. The least important factors are the mechanical parameters of the overburden. The larger the Young’s modulus of the overburden is, the smaller the displacement of the fold and the fold slope. Strong horizontal compression and vertical extension in the overburden near the fault zone are the main mechanisms that form coseismic folds.


ground deformation coseismic fold blind thrust fault finite element method 


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We would like to thank the anonymous reviewers for their constructive comments. This research was funded by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No. 41474080).


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© Higher Education Press and Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of GeophysicsPeking UniversityBeijingChina
  2. 2.Deep Water Exploration Group, Research InstituteCNOOC Nanhai East Petroleum BureauGuangzhouChina

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