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Conjugate normal faults

This photo comes from a highway in Iran northwest of the city of Tehran and shows normal faults forming a textbook-quality pattern.
At the center of the image you see a wedge-shaped area of rock that has moved downward relative to the rocks to the left and right. The faults make a wedge that is about 60 degrees, and the faults are about 60 degrees from the horizontal.

This is a great example of how rock mechanics are taught even in textbooks. When rocks are put under stress, either pushed on or pulled on, they often fracture at an angle of about 60 degrees away from the stress due to the internal properties of the rocks. They can also break into 2 conjugate fractures, each at about 60 degrees apart.

The faults at the center of this image are a pretty example of how rocks respond to being pulled on. While I’m at it, there’s another fault in this image off to the left just to note for completion. Also interesting to note that the faults seem to peter out in a layer at the bottom of this sequence, a little bit harder to interpret that without seeing a bit more of the 3-D shape of this outcrop.


Image credit: EGU Open Access


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