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Modeling the shape and evolution of normal-fault facets

Tucker, Gregory E., Hobley, Daniel E. J., McCoy, Scott W. and Struble, Will T. 2020. Modeling the shape and evolution of normal-fault facets. Journal of Geophysical Research: Earth Surface 125 (3) , e2019JF005305. 10.1029/2019JF005305

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Facets formed along the footwalls of active normal-fault blocks display a variety of longitudinal profile forms, with variations in gradient, shape, degree of soil cover, and presence or absence of a slope break at the fault trace. We show that a two-dimensional, process-oriented cellular automaton model of facet profile evolution can account for the observed morphologic diversity. The model uses two dimensionless parameters to represent fault slip, progressive rock weathering, and downslope colluvial-soil transport driven by gravity and stochastic disturbance events. The parameters represent rock weathering and soil disturbance rates, respectively, scaled by fault slip rate; both can be derived from field-estimated rate coefficients. In the model's transport-limited regime, slope gradient depends on the ratio of disturbance to slip rate, with a maximum that represents the angle of repose for colluvium. In this regime, facet evolution is consistent with nonlinear diffusion models of soil-mantled hillslope evolution. Under the weathering-limited regime, bedrock becomes partly exposed but microtopography helps trap some colluvium even when facet gradient exceeds the threshold angle. Whereas the model predicts a continuous gradient from footwall to colluvial wedge under transport-limited behavior, fully weathering-limited facets tend to develop a slope break between footwall and basal colluvium as a result of reduced transport efficiency on the rocky footwall slope. To the extent that the model provides a reasonable analogy for natural facets, its behavior suggests that facet profile morphology can provide useful constraints on relative potential rates of rock weathering, soil disturbance, and fault slip.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Earth and Environmental Sciences
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GB Physical geography
Q Science > QE Geology
Additional Information: This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) licence
Publisher: American Geophysical Union (AGU)
ISSN: 2169-9011
Funders: NSF Earth Sciences Division
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 27 March 2020
Date of Acceptance: 2 March 2020
Last Modified: 20 May 2021 01:27

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