International Journal of Earth Sciences

, Volume 108, Issue 5, pp 1527–1550 | Cite as

Variation in geometries and displacement along thrust faults: a quantitative analysis from sandbox models

  • Mohammad IrfanAhmadEmail author
  • Giovanni Toscani
Original Paper


The present work combines theoretical analysis, laboratory experiments, and field examples together with quantitative analysis to understand displacement variation along fault surfaces with varying dip angle. Two sandbox experiments are described to quantitatively analyze the interactions between shortening and sedimentation during late stages of deformation. The two models consisted of sand layers with single and two microbeads layer/s within the sandpack, sieved over horizontal frictional detachment. The models demonstrate that the overlying sediment load bears a major role on kinematic of developing structures. Fault displacement varied along imbricate thrusts due to variation in fault dip angle in the listric geometry. Maximum displacement occurred in the up-dip direction (up-section or near fault tip) along the faults where fault dip angles were shallower and favourable for thrust displacement. In contrast, the displacement was limited in the down-dip direction (down-section or near basal detachment) where fault dip angles were steeper. The variation in fault displacement with fault dip along the fault surfaces made it possible to establish an inverse relationship between the fault dip and related displacement values, i.e. lower is the dip angle, greater the displacement and vice versa. Despite the inherent limitations and assumptions of laboratory experiments, application of results to natural examples sheds new light on the mechanics and geometry of thrust faults from the deep to shallow structural levels as well as structural patterns that could appear as anomalous at a first sight.


Fold-and-thrust Fault dip Fault displacement Paleoseismic studies Late-stage deformation Syn-tectonic sedimentation 



The experimental works reported here have been carried out during M.I.A’s Ph.D. at University Pavia, Italy. This research partially benefited from funding provided by the Italian Presidenza del Consigliodei Ministri Dipartimento della Protezione Civile (DPC). Statements and conclusions contained in this paper do not necessarily reflect opinions and policies of the DPC. Soumyajit Mukherjee (IIT Bombay) handled this ms and provided review comments in few occasions. An anonymous reviewer in addition is thanked for providing review comments. M.I.A. thanks the chairperson Department of Geology A. M. U. Aligarh for providing the necessary facilities. Petroleum Expert is kindly acknowledged for donating academic licenses of the MOVE suite to the University of Pavia, Italy.


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Copyright information

© Geologische Vereinigung e.V. (GV) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of GeologyAligarh Muslim UniversityAligarhIndia
  2. 2.Dipartimento di Scienze della Terra e dell’AmbienteUniversità di PaviaPaviaItaly

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