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Development of extensional stresses in the compressional setting of the Himalayan thrust wedge: inference from numerical modelling

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DOI: 10.4236/ns.2010.27083    6,531 Downloads   11,900 Views   Citations


The estimation of contemporary tectonic stress field and deformation in active fold-and-thrust belts are imperative in identifying active geodynamics and resulting faulting phenomenon. In this paper, we focus on contemporary extensional tectonics in the overall compressive setting of the Himalayan orogen. Here we examine the regional tectonic stress field and upper crustal deformation in the Himalayan thrust wedge using a 2D finite element technique, incorporating elastic rheology under plain strain condition. The elastic models demonstrate that the extensional tectonic stress and related nor- mal faulting is extensively developed in the southern front of the Himalaya at shallow crustal level (< 10 km in depth). Our modelling shows a good consistency with the geological field evidences of active faulting, focal mechanism solutions of medium size earthquakes in the several sectors of the Himalaya. Results based on numerical simulation, tectonic analysis and taking geological and geophysical data into account, we interpret that the present-day extensional tectonic activity is not restricted in the southern Tibet but distributed in the different sectors of the Himalayan fold-and-thrust belt co-exist with compressional structures. Modelling results also indicate that the nature, distribution and orientation of the maximum compressive stress (?1) of the Himalaya are mainly controlled by the intra crustal Main Himalayan décollement (MHT). The significant amount of shear stress/strain concentration along the MHT in the western Nepal predict that the region is prone to moderate and great future earthquakes.

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The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

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Joshi, G. and Hayashi, D. (2010) Development of extensional stresses in the compressional setting of the Himalayan thrust wedge: inference from numerical modelling. Natural Science, 2, 667-680. doi: 10.4236/ns.2010.27083.


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