Localization instability and the origin of regularly-spaced faults in planetary lithospheres
Author(s)Montési, Laurent Gilbert Joseph, 1973-
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Dept. of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences.
Maria T. Zuber.
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Brittle deformation is not distributed uniformly in planetary lithospheres but is instead localized on faults and ductile shear zones. In some regions such as the Central Indian Basin or martian ridged plains, localized shear zones display a characteristic spacing. This pattern can constrain the mechanical structure of the lithosphere if a model that includes the development of localized shear zones and their interaction with the non-localizing levels of the lithosphere is available. I construct such a model by modifying the buckling analysis of a mechanically-stratified lithosphere idealization, by allowing for rheologies that have a tendency to localize. The stability of a heological system against localization is indicated by its effective stress exponent, ne. That quantity must be negative for the material to have a tendency to localize. I show that a material deforming brittly or by frictional sliding has ne < 0. Localization by shear heating or grain size feedback in the ductile field requires significant deviations from non-localized deformation conditions. The buckling analysis idealizes the lithosphere as a series of horizontal layers of different mechanical properties. When this model is subjected to horizontal extension or compression, infinitesimal perturbation of its interfaces grow at a rate that depends on their wavelength. Two superposed instabilities develop if ne < 0 in a layer overlying a non-localizing substratum. One is the classical buckling/necking instability. The other gives rise to regularly-spaced localized shear zones, with a spacing proportional to the thickness of the localizing layer, and dependent on ne. I call that second instability the localization instability.(cont.) Using the localization instability, the depth to which fault penetrate in the Indian Ocean and in martian ridged plains can be constrained from the ridge spacing. The result are consistent with earthquake data in the Indian Ocean and radiogenic heat production on Mars. It is therefore possible that the localization instability exerts a certain control on the formation of fault patterns in planetary lithospheres.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Dept. of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences, 2002.Includes bibliographical references (p. 259-296).
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences.