Fault propagation folds - Geometry, Kinematic Evolution, and Hydrocarbon Traps

By  Geo. Shankar Mitra, Ph.D. ConocoPhillips School of Geology and Geophysics. Oklahoma Universty Ago 23, 2011

Fault-propagation folding, a common folding mechanism in fold and thrust belts, occurs when a propagating thrust fault loses slip and terminates upsection by transferring its shortening to a fold developing at its tip.

Area-balanced theoretical models that relate the footwall cutoff angle (theta) to the fold interlimb half-angles (gamma* and gamma) show that open folds (high gamma* and gamma) are characterized by relative thickening of stratigraphically higher units, whereas tight folds (low gamma* and gamma) are characterized by relative thinning of these units.

The propagation of thrusts is commonly characterized by the progressive tightening of the fold hinge and steepening of the front limb. Thickening of stratigraphically higher units in the early stages of folding i followed by localized thinning of the front limb in the late stages.

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