pure and applied geophysics

, Volume 124, Issue 1–2, pp 79–106 | Cite as

Implications for mechanical properties of brittle faults from observations of the Punchbowl fault zone, California

  • F. M. Chester
  • J. M. Logan
Article

Abstract

Field observations of the Punchbowl fault zone, an inactive trace of the San Andreas, are integrated with results from experimental deformation of naturally deformed Punchbowl fault rocks for a qualitative description of the mechanical properties of the fault and additional information for conceptual models of crustal faulting. The Punchbowl fault zone consists of a single, continuous gouge layer bounded by zones of extensively damaged host rock. Fault displacements were not only localized to the gouge layer, but also to discrete shear surfaces within the gouge. Deformation in the exposure studied probably occurred at depths of 2 to 4 km and was dominated by cataclastic mechanisms. Textural data also suggest that significant amounts of pore fluids were present during faulting, and that fluid-assisted mechanisms, such as dissolution, diffusion, and precipitation, were operative.

The experimental data on specimens collected from the fault zone suggest that there is a gradual decrease in strength and elastic modulus and an increase in relative ductility and permeability toward the main gouge zone. The gouge layer has fairly uniform mechanical properites, and it has significantly lower strength, elastic modulus, and permeability than both the damaged and the undeformed host rock.

For the Punchbowl fault and possibly other brittle faults, the variations in loading of the gouge zone with time are primarily governed by the morphology of the fault and the mechanical properties of the damaged host rock. In addition, the damaged zone acts as the permeable unit of the fault zone and surrounding rock. It appears that the gouge primarily governs whether displacements are localized, and it therefore may have a significant influence on the mode of slip.

Key words

Deformation faults cataclasis gouge rock mechanics 

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Copyright information

© Birkhäuser Verlag 1986

Authors and Affiliations

  • F. M. Chester
    • 1
  • J. M. Logan
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Geology and Geophysics and Center for TectonophysicsTexas A and M UniversityCollege

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