Thrust-fault growth and segment linkage in the active Ostler fault zone, New Zealand

Kenneth Davis, Douglas W. Burbank, Donald Fisher, Shamus Wallace, David Nobes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

134 Scopus citations


Thrust faulting is a fundamental mode of crustal deformation, yet many of the key geometrical attributes of thrust faults and the controls on fault rupture, growth, and linkage remain poorly resolved. Numerous surface-rupturing thrust faults cut through upper Quaternary glacial outwash terraces within the Ostler Fault zone, an active thrust system in the Southern Alps, New Zealand. We use these deformed marker surfaces to define the three-dimensional deformation field associated with their surface expression and to map displacement and length on ∼40 fault segments. Displacement transfer across two fault segment arrays occurs in distinctly different styles. In one, displacement is transferred between en échelon fault segments to produce a smooth, linear displacement gradient. In the other, large-scale folding and a population of small faults transfer displacement between two non-overlapping fault segments, with a residual displacement minimum within the transfer zone. Size distribution of fault-segment length and maximum displacement follow a power-law scaling relationship. Maximum displacement (Dmax) scales linearly with and represents ∼1% of segment trace length (L). Dmax/L data from the segments of the Ostler Fault zone display similar scaling to a global fault dataset. This similarity is surprising, given that the observed displacements along the Ostler Fault represent only 20 ky of slip on fault segments that are likely to be many times older.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1528-1546
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Structural Geology
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2005

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geology


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