Propagation and coalescence of en-echelon cracks under a far-field tensile stress regime: An experimental study

  • Nilanjana GhoshEmail author
  • Kalyanbrata Hatui
  • Anupam Chattopadhyay


Experiments were carried out to observe the variation in propagation and linkage of parallel en-echelon cracks with varying orientation of the crack array and different relative position of the cracks within the array in an extensional regime. Two-layered analogue model, with a basal layer of pitch overlain by a layer of kaolin paste was used in the experiments. En-echelon cracks were pre-cut within the kaolin layer maintaining specific geometrical parameters of the cracks (e.g., length, centre spacing, separation) in such a manner that there was a weak (though not negligible) local tip-induced stress favouring curvature of adjacent crack tips towards one another. The results obtained were matched with natural pattern of linkage of veins, rift basins and spreading ridges, as described in the relevant literature. The experimental results showed that the final pattern of linkage between the cracks was a result of initial deflection of crack tip from its plane due to combined effect of local and far-field stress. When the deflection of tip from the crack plane was between \(0{^{\circ }}\) to \(45{^{\circ }}\), a ‘tip to wall’ linkage took place between adjacent cracks isolating a rhombohedral area in the interaction zone. The resultant structure could be geometrically comparable to a micro-plate-like structure isolated due to linkage of ridge segments initially forming an overlapping spreading centre (OSC). When the deflection of tip from the crack plane was greater than \(45{^{\circ }}\), a ‘tip to tip’ linkage between adjacent cracks took place resulting in a structure similar to a transform fault between spreading ridges and or rift basins. When effect of the remote stress opposed the tip induced stress, no linkage took place between the adjacent cracks, and finally the tips propagated straight along a plane perpendicular to the remote extension direction.


En-echelon cracks far-field stress local tip induced stress overlapping spreading centre transform fault 



The authors wish to thank the Department of Science and Technology, Government of India for the financial support required to carry out the work (DST Project No. SR/WOS-A/ES-26/2013). The working space was provided by Department of Geology, University of Delhi.


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Copyright information

© Indian Academy of Sciences 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nilanjana Ghosh
    • 1
    Email author
  • Kalyanbrata Hatui
    • 1
  • Anupam Chattopadhyay
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of GeologyUniversity of DelhiDelhiIndia

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