Influence of shear angle on hangingwall deformation during tectonic inversion

Yasuhiro Yamada, Ken McClay

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Tectonic inversion is a common phenomenon in island arc settings, especially in back-arc basins. The reactivation of normal faults as thrusts, triggered by tectonic inversion, produces typical inversion fault-related folds and thrusts in the hangingwall. These hangingwall inversion geometries are affected by two factors: the geometry of the underlying master fault and the angle of inclined simple shear relative to the regional dip of strata, in the case that the deformation is approximated by simple shear. This study employed numerical simulations to analyse the influence of the antithetic shear angle on the geometry of the hangingwall and displacement along the master fault. The simulation results reveal that a steeply inclined shear vector during extension produces a narrow, steep-sided half-graben, whereas a gently inclined shear produces a wide, open basin. After tectonic inversion, a tight anticline is formed under steeply inclined shear, whereas an open anticline is formed under gently inclined shear. Antithetic shear results in reduced total displacement along the master fault, and the greater the angle between the shear direction and the regional dip, the greater the displacement along the master fault. Because the deformation geometry of syn-extension layers is affected by extension followed by contraction, a change in the shear angle during tectonic inversion produces a wide variety of deformation geometries. Comparison of the simulation results with the results of analogue modelling suggests that the shear angle decreases by 5° during the transition from extension to tectonic inversion and that such a change may be commonly observed in natural geological structures. These results highlight the benefits of numerical simulations, which can be used to readily examine a variety of constraining parameters and thereby lead to a better understanding of the mechanism of hangingwall deformation, avoiding erroneous estimates of the amount of fault displacement.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)546-559
Number of pages14
JournalIsland Arc
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2010
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geology


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