Stability Analysis of Incipient Folding and Faulting of an Elasto-Plastic Layer on a Viscous Substratum



The initiation of two modes of instability, viz. folding and faulting, is investigated theoretically for an elasto-plastic, frictional- cohesive layer which is underlain by a viscous substratum. The destabilizing factors that are allowed to come into play are the tectonic stress, buoyancy forces resulting from a gravitationally unstable density stratification, and the redistribution of material at the top surface by erosion and deposition processes. The bending stiffness of the overburden, a non-linear function of stress, has a stabilizing influence. A variational formulation of the stability problem allows one to detect the onset of global modes of instability, such as folds and surface modes for compression as well as neck-type modes for extension. Predictions of these global modes remain valid as long as the local condition of strong ellipticity is satisfied. Failure of this condition marks the onset of discontinuities in the velocity field, which are characteristic of localized faulting. The sensitivity of these predictions to the assumed behaviour of the overburden and substratum materials is explored for a prototype representative of a dip section through the Campos salt basin on the Brazilian continental margin. These results illustrate the importance of a proper selection of analogue materials for the design of physical laboratory models. This point is underscored by employing a deformation theory of plasticity which could be seen to reproduce in a simple manner the accommodation of bulk deformation by slip along a population of pervasive small faults in sedimentary rocks as well as in analogue materials, such as sands, used in the laboratory. A historical account of the use of deformation theories of plasticity in stability analyses and a derivation of the relevant incremental moduli are also given in this paper.


Yield Surface Localize Fault Stress Rate Deformation Theory Plasticity Model 
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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Laboratoire de Mécanique des Solides Ecole PolytechniqueU.M.R. C.N.R.S. no. 7649Palaiseau CedexFrance
  2. 2.Department of Aerospace EngineeringThe University of MichiganAnn ArborUSA

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