[ TU/e -> CASA -> Mark Peletier -> Folding in geological structures ]

## Folding in geological structures

Folds are a common feature of stratified rock. They have intrigued geologists for ages, and to this day there are many aspects of geological folding that are not well understood. The pictures shown on this page show a small selection of the tremendous variety in forms and structures. Besides being of intrinsic academic interest, folds are also commonly associated with valuable minerals, and the mining industry keeps a keen eye on theoretical developments.

In our work on folds in rock we started looking at single-layer folding, partly because of the simpler modelling. Single-layer folding assumes a situation where a single layer of one material is embedded in a large homogeneous mass of some other material. This leads to the model of a strut on a foundation, and we looked at both an elastic strut on an elastic foundation and an elastic strut on a viscous foundation.

### The elastic strut on a viscous foundation

• Chris J. Budd and Mark A. Peletier, Approximate Self-similarity in Models of Geological Folding (928 kB), SIAM Journal on Applied Mathematics, Vol. 60, No. 3, pp. 990-1016 (2000); link to the paper at the SIAM web site; version with two pictures left out (175 kB).
• Chris J. Budd, Giles W. Hunt, and Mark A. Peletier, Self-similar Fold Evolution under Prescribed End-Shortening (119 kB), Journal of Mathematical Geology, Vol. 31, pp. 989--1005 (1999).

Both papers here tell the same story, but for different audiences. The model that we use for the elastic strut embedded in a viscous material is the following: the pair (u,P) satisfies the differential equation

and the constraint condition, for every time t,

The first paper gives a derivation of this model. The first equation is a force balance, the second specifies the shortening' of the strut as a function of time. This shortening is assumed to arise as the result of tectonic compression and is generally believed to be the main reason why rock folds in the first place. A typical function g(t) would therefore be slowly increasing in time. The function P(t) can be seen as a Lagrange multiplier associated with the constraint.

One thing we discovered in analysing the behaviour of an elastic strut embedded in a viscous material is that an initial deformation grows in amplitude if g(t) is constant or increasing. The folds develop more and more wiggles' and the fold wavelength increases.

The equations admit a self-similar scaling, but those self-similar solutions that exist are not fit to be the long-term behaviour for solutions of the initial-value problem. As a result the solutions have an asymptotically self-similar long-term behaviour.

### Multilayer folding

However, while visiting the cliffs of Cornwall we felt that there was another kind of folding that also allowed for some simplified modelling. We saw what is known as multilayer folding, where many layers bend and fold in a similar' manner.
• Giles W. Hunt, Mark A. Peletier, and M. Ahmer Wadee, The Maxwell Stability Criterion in Pseudo-Energy Models of Kink Banding (1013 kB), Journal of Structural Geology, Vol. 22, pp. 669-681 (2000) .

One of the first questions we ran into was why do these elastic materials fold into such sharp corners'. One answer was given in terms of the overburden pressure in the rock (see the appendix of the paper for the details).

The main subject of this paper arose when we tried modelling the actual rock with a simpler real-world system: stacks of paper. Although eventually the paper folded into something looking like the photograph to the right, it went through a number of interesting intermediate stages before getting there. The first deformation was of a well-known kind, kink-banding, and in this paper we show that this phenomenon can be understood in a simple model in terms of `links', elementary structural elements. The main ingredient here turns out to be the combination of friction between the layers and the intrinsic elasticity of the layers parallel to the layer.

• Giles W. Hunt, M. Ahmer Wadee, and Mark A. Peletier, Friction Models of Kink-Banding in Compressed Layered Structures (410 kB), Proceedings of the 5th International Workshop on Bifurcation and Localization in Soils and Rock, Perth, Australia (1999).

With a slightly different experimental setup we could measure the lateral load experienced by the stack of paper, allowing for a first comparison with experiments ...

• M. Ahmer Wadee, Giles W. Hunt, and Mark A. Peletier, Kink Band Instability in Layered Structures (400 kB), Journal of Mechanics and Physics of Solids, Vol. 52, p. 1071-1091 (2004).

... but the better comparison arose when we also adapted the theory to take into account the lateral compressibility of the layers, too.

Last modified on March 25, 2012 by Mark Peletier