Strain analysis and fold shape in a limestone layer and implications for layer rheology

Peter J Hudleston, T. B. Holst

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51 Scopus citations


Folds are developed in thin limestone layers within slates of the McKay Formation exposed to the east of the Rocky Mountain Trench, British Columbia, Canada. They possess geometrical characteristics expected of development by buckling. Strain in the profile plane of a selected fold is similar to that predicted by tangential longitudinal strain, except that magnitudes are too low for the observed curvature. This is attributed to inhomogeneity of strain on the scale of measurement, largely because of pressure solution. Material removed by pressure solution from the inner arc of the fold appears to form veins perpendicular to the hinge, a direction of tectonic stretching. Bedding-parallel stylolites developed diagenetically prior to tectonism. Layer-parallel shortening during the initiation of buckling was less than 20%, and probably less than 10%. The mean arclength/thickness ratio is 6.5 and 7.1, with a dispersion of 0.48 and 0.37 for local and regional populations of 29 and 212 folds, respectively. Application of buckling theory to this data suggests that folding followed a non-linear flow law. The viscosity contrast between limestone and slate would be higher and the power law exponent lower, if initial irregularities in the layers were in the form of a constant amplitude spectrum rather than one of white roughness. The data do not allow a choice of initial amplitude spectrum to be made, nor do they closely constrain estimates of n the power law exponent and viscosity contrast. Deformation in the limestone layers was accommodated by intracrystalline flow (twin gliding), pressure solution, and extensional veining (the last two linked by diffusive mass transfer). The first two dominated deformation in the profile plane of the fold and the last, in association with fracturing, allowed for extension parallel to the hinge. Experimental and theoretical considerations suggest that deformation by a combination of these processes should be non-linear. The non-linear flow law deduced from buckling analysis is consistent with expectations based on observations of active deformation mechanisms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)321-347
Number of pages27
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - Jul 10 1984

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