Laboratories

Physical Modeling Lab

Preparing the physical model.

Faults.

Oblique uplift -front view.

The Structure and Tectonics Group maintains a state-of-the-art physical modeling laboratory where students and faculty conduct scaled, analog models of structural and tectonic processes. The uniaxial modeling apparatus can operate in extension or contraction, and is uniquely designed to investigate the effects of lateral displacement gradients and structural interactions between faults and folds. Modeling materials include clay, sand and silicone putty, each of which can be used to represent various types of geologic materials deforming at different scales and rates.

We use high-precision, close-range photogrammetry to determine the 3-D displacement and strain fields associated with a deforming model. These data help us to better understand how structures initiate, grow and interact with one another. Movement of a model can be accurately and routinely tracked with precision less than a tenth of a millimeter.

Ongoing modeling projects include:

  • influence of oblique-slip on minor faults in Laramide-style, basement uplifts
  • relations between curvature and strain in fault-related folds
  • 3-D displacements in the noses of laterally-propagating folds
  • minor fault populations in basement uplifts: influence of lateral fault displacement gradients