Comparisons between analogue and numerical models of thrust wedge development

Ellis, S.; Schreurs, Guido; Panien, Marion (2004). Comparisons between analogue and numerical models of thrust wedge development. Journal of structural geology, 26(9), pp. 1659-1675. Elsevier 10.1016/j.jsg.2004.02.012

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Analogue and finite element numerical models with frictional and viscous properties are used to model thrust wedge development. Comparison between model types yields valuable information about analogue model evolution, scaling laws and the relative strengths and limitations of the techniques. Both model types show a marked contrast in structural style between ‘frictional-viscous domains’ underlain by a thin viscous layer and purely ‘frictional domains’. Closely spaced thrusts form a narrow and highly asymmetric fold-and-thrust belt in the frictional domain, characterized by in-sequence propagation of forward thrusts. In contrast, the frictional-viscous domain shows a wide and low taper wedge and a thrust belt with a more symmetrical vergence, with both forward and back thrusts. The frictional-viscous domain numerical models show that the viscous layer initially simple shears as deformation propagates along it, while localized deformation resulting in the formation of a pop-up structure occurs in the overlying frictional layers. In both domains, thrust shear zones in the numerical model are generally steeper than the equivalent faults in the analogue model, because the finite element code uses a non-associated plasticity flow law. Nevertheless, the qualitative agreement between analogue and numerical models is encouraging. It shows that the continuum approximation used in numerical models can be used to model frictional materials, such as sand, provided caution is taken to properly scale the experiments, and some of the limitations are taken into account.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


08 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geological Sciences

UniBE Contributor:

Schreurs, Guido


500 Science > 550 Earth sciences & geology








Guido Schreurs

Date Deposited:

18 Jul 2016 14:03

Last Modified:

27 Jul 2016 09:08

Publisher DOI:





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