Ongoing projects


This collaborative project funded by the BMBF investigates the deformation-dependent development of fault zones and the influence of clay smear on their barrier behaviour. In work package E we use analogue (sandbox) experiments to investigate the structural evolution of clay smear-similar behaviour in hybrid fault and fracture systems.

Participants: Friedrich Alexander-Universität Erlangen Institut für geothermisches Ressourcenmanagement, Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz, Microstructures and Pores GmbH, RWTH Aachen University.

The Analogue Modelling Laboratory at Tectonics and Geodynamics, RWTH

AML - the Analogue Modelling Laboratory - undertakes experiments to investigate thin- and thick-skinned shortening, the formation of triangle zones, and basin inversion.

Orogenic Collapse

Following the Wilson Cycle concept, most present-day rifted margins were built on former collision zones. An example is the opening of the North Atlantic Ocean which largely followed the trend of the Caledonides. We use numerical experiments to contrast rifting of laterally homogeneous lithosphere with rifting that is superimposed on a lithosphere characterised by collisional inheritance. The project was financed by industry and the Geological Survey of Norway (NGU).

Participants: Susanne Buiter (NGU, now RWTH Aachen University), Loic Fourel (former NGU), Gwenn Peron-Pinvidic (NGU), and Per Terje Osmundsen (NGU, now NTNU).

Finite-element code SULEC

SULEC is a finite element code that solves the incompressible Navier-Stokes equations for slow creeping flows. The code is developed by Susanne Buiter (RWTH Aachen University, formerly NGU) and Susan Ellis (GNS Sciences, NZ).

The formation of parallel-dipping normal faults on passive margins

Observations indicate that extension of the continental upper crust is often accommodated by arrays of normal faults. These faults can have alternating dip directions and define a horst and graben structure or they can all dip in the same direction. Arrays of parallel-dipping normal faults are, for example, observed in the extending domains of offshore Norway, the Basin and Range Province, the Galicia margin west of the Iberian Peninsula, and offshore Angola. We investigate factors and mechanisms that favour the formation of an array of parallel-dipping normal faults over a sequence of horst and graben structures. An understanding of the formation and evolution of such fault arrays is of clear importance for improving our understanding of the general framework of the development of the Norwegian margin.

Participants: Susanne Buiter, Guido Schreurs (University of Bern), and Susan Ellis (GNS Science).