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Press Release 09-242

It's Not Your Fault--A Typical Fault, Geologically Speaking, That Is

Center cannot hold for some geologic faults

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Illustration showing how continuous versus randomly-oriented fabric can strengthen a fault.

Studies have shown certain low-angle faults to be a lot weaker than expected. The weakness is a result of the structure of the fabric of the fault. When it is composed of fine-grained talc and smectite in a continuous layered architecture, the fault is much weaker than when the fabric is randomly oriented.

Credit: Zina Deretsky, NSF


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Photo showing the Zuccale Fault, Elba, Italy from a distance.

View of the Zuccale Fault, Elba, Italy from a distance.

Credit: Cristiano Collettini, Universita degli Studi di Perugia, Italy, 2009.


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Foliated microstructure at the microscale: talc lamellae (brights) and calcite veins (white-greys).

A look at the foliated microstructure at the microscale: talc lamellae (bright colours) and calcite veins (white-greys).

Credit: Cristiano Collettini, Universita degli Studi di Perugia, Italy, 2009.


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Image of the fault core seen in the Zuccale fault in Elba, Italy.

Image of the fault core seen in the Zuccale fault in Elba, Italy.

Credit: Cristiano Collettini, Universita degli Studi di Perugia, Italy, 2009.


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