Deformation of square objects and boudins

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Journal of Structural Geology
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Some geological objects, such as clasts and boudins, may have had original shapes close to square, that have been modified by ductile deformation. We demonstrate through finite element models presented here and in earlier papers that square objects in a matrix with contrasting viscosity can deform to a variety of curved shapes. The maximum shape change is where the square edges are parallel to the principal bulk strains. Competent objects with viscosity ratio to matrix (m) of 2-20 become barrel shaped, showing concave 'fish mouth' shortened edges. Incompetent objects (m < 1) show a narrower variety of shapes with m, all becoming smoothed to bone, dumb-bell or lobate shapes, and losing the original corners.We compare the results for square objects with linear and non-linear rheology (power law, stress exponent n = 1, 3 or 10), and with previous modelling with different object-matrix proportions. Competent objects with higher n, values deform slightly less, and more irregularly, than linearly viscous (n = 1) objects, but the distinctions between n = 3 and 10 are only slight. The differences are even slighter (in the opposite sense) for incompetent objects. The proportion of object to matrix is as important, if not more, in controlling the deformation and shape of these objects. The results are compared via graphs of object strain and concavity versus bulk strain.The concavity graph for competent square objects with linear viscosity up to very high strain can be compared with examples of ductile boudins with barrel or fish mouth shapes. Subject to a number of assumptions, this provides a method of estimating boudin-matrix viscosity ratios and post-boudinage ductile strain, of potential use in highly deformed rocks lacking other strain markers. The approach may also be suitable for deformed porphyroblasts, but is more difficult to apply to single clasts in breccias and conglomerates. (C) 2064 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


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DOI 10.1016/j.jsg.2003.12.002