Quantifying strain in analogue models simulating fold-and-thrust belts using magnetic fabric analysis

Abstract: Applying the anisotropy of magnetic susceptibility to analogue models provides detailed insights into the strain distribution and quantification of deformation within contractional tectonic settings like fold-and-thrust belts (FTBs). Shortening in FTBs is accommodated by layer-parallel shortening, folding, and thrusting. The models in this research reflect the different deformation processes and the resulting magnetic fabric can be attributed to thrusting, folding and layer-parallel shortening. Thrusting develops a magnetic foliation parallel to the thrust surface, whereas folding and penetrative strain develop a magnetic lineation perpendicular to the shorting direction but parallel to the bedding. These fabric types can be observed in the first model of this study, which simulated a FTB shortened above two adjacent décollements with different frictional properties. The different friction coefficients along the décollements have not only an effect on the geometric and kinematic evolution of a FTB, but also on the strain distribution and magnitude of strain within the belt. The second series of models performed in this study show the development of a thrust imbricate and the strain distribution across a single imbricate in more detail. Three models, with similar setup but different magnitudes of bulk shortening, show strain gradients by gradual changes in principal axes orientations and decrease in degree of anisotropy with decreasing distance to thrusts and kinkzones. These models show that at the beginning of shortening, strain is accommodated mainly by penetrative strain. With further shortening, formation of thrusts and kinkzones overprint the magnetic fabric locally and the degree of anisotropy is decreasing within the deformation zones. At thrusts, an overprint of the magnetic fabric prior deformation towards a magnetic foliation parallel to the thrust surfaces can be observed. A rather complex interplay between thrusting and folding can be analysed in the kinkzones.In general, this thesis outlines the characteristics of magnetic fabric observed in FTBs, relates different types of magnetic fabric to different processes of deformation and provides insights into the strain distribution of FTBs.

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