Large amplitude folding in finely layered viscoelastic rock structures

Hans Bernd Mühlhaus*, Louis Moresi, Bruce Hobbs, Frédéric Dufour

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Citations (Scopus)


We analyze folding phenomena in finely layered viscoelastic rock. Fine is meant in the sense that the thickness of each layer is considerably smaller than characteristic structural dimensions. For this purpose we derive constitutive relations and apply a computational simulation scheme (a finite-element based particle advection scheme; see Moresi et al., 2001) suitable for problems involving very large deformations of layered viscous and viscoclastic rocks. An algorithm for the time integration of the governing equations as well as details of the finite-element implementation is also given. We then consider bucking instabilities in a finite, rectangular domain. Embedded within this domain, parallel to the longer dimension we consider a stiff, layered plate. The domain is compressed along the layer axis by prescribing velocities along the sides. First, for the viscous limit we consider the response to a series of harmonic perturbations of the director orientation. The Fourier spectra of the initial folding velocity are compared for different viscosity ratios. Turning to the nonlinear regime we analyze viscoelastic folding histories up to 40% shortening. The effect of layering manifests itself in that appreciable buckling instabilities are obtained at much lower viscosity ratios (1:10) as is required for the buckling of isotropic plates (1:500). The wavelength induced by the initial harmonic perturbation of the director orientation seems to be persistent. In the section of the parameter space considered here elasticity seems to delay or inhibit the occurrence of a second, larger wavelength. Finally, in a linear instability analysis we undertake a brief excursion into the potential role of couple stresses on the folding process. The linear instability analysis also provides insight into the expected modes of deformation at the onset of instability, and the different regimes of behavior one might expect to observe.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2311-2333
Number of pages23
JournalPure and Applied Geophysics
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 2002
Externally publishedYes


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