Cardiff University | Prifysgol Caerdydd ORCA
Online Research @ Cardiff 
WelshClear Cookie - decide language by browser settings

Polymodal faulting: Time for a new angle on shear failure

Healy, Davig, Blenkinsop, Thomas G., Timms, Nicholas E., Meredith, Philip G., Mitchell, Thomas M. and Cooke, Michele L. 2015. Polymodal faulting: Time for a new angle on shear failure. Journal of Structural Geology 80 , pp. 57-71. 10.1016/j.jsg.2015.08.013

[thumbnail of 1-s2.0-S0191814115300316-main(1).pdf]
PDF - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.

Download (3MB) | Preview


Conjugate, or bimodal, fault patterns dominate the geological literature on shear failure. Based on Anderson's (1905) application of the Mohr-Coulomb failure criterion, these patterns have been interpreted from all tectonic regimes, including normal, strike-slip and thrust (reverse) faulting. However, a fundamental limitation of the Mohr-Coulomb failure criterion – and others that assume faults form parallel to the intermediate principal stress, σ2 – is that only plane strain can result from slip on the conjugate faults. However, deformation in the Earth is widely accepted as being three-dimensional, with truly triaxial stresses (σ1 > σ2 > σ3) and strains. Polymodal faulting, with three or more sets of faults forming and slipping simultaneously, can generate three-dimensional strains from truly triaxial stresses. Laboratory experiments and outcrop studies have verified the occurrence of polymodal fault patterns in nature. These fault patterns present a fundamental challenge to our understanding of shear failure in rocks (and other materials) and an opportunity to improve our understanding of seismic hazards and fluid flow in the subsurface. In this review, we assess the published evidence, theories and models for polymodal faulting before suggesting ways to produce a truly general and valid failure criterion for triaxial failure.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Earth and Environmental Sciences
Subjects: Q Science > QE Geology
Uncontrolled Keywords: Fault; Pattern; Polymodal; Quadrimodal; Conjugate; Failure
Additional Information: Available online 3 September 2015
Publisher: Elsevier
ISSN: 0191-8141
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 30 March 2016
Date of Acceptance: 30 August 2015
Last Modified: 12 Mar 2019 14:34

Citation Data

Cited 44 times in Scopus. View in Scopus. Powered By Scopus® Data

Actions (repository staff only)

Edit Item Edit Item


Downloads per month over past year

View more statistics