16 Aug 2023
 | 16 Aug 2023
Status: this preprint is open for discussion.

Impact of faults on the remote stress state

Karsten Reiter, Oliver Heidbach, and Moritz Ziegler

Abstract. The impact of faults on the contemporary stress field in the upper crust has been discussed in various studies. Data and models clearly show that there is an impact, but so far, a systematic study that quantifies the impact as a function of distance to the fault is missing. As there is a lack of dense data, we use here a series of generic 3-D-models to investigate which component of the 3-D-stress tensor is affected at what distance to the fault. Our focus is on the far-field beyond hundreds of meters from the fault. The models test different approaches to implement faults, different material properties, different boundary conditions, variable orientation, and size of the fault. The results of our study show that beyond 1.000 m distance to the fault, the displacements along the fault and its strength contrast neither leaves an imprint on the orientation of the stress tensor nor in the magnitude of the principal stresses in the far field. This finding agrees with robust data from either stress magnitude measurements or areas where high-quality and high-resolution data on the change in orientation of the stress tensor are available. The latter shows often continuous and gradual rotation of the stress tensor orientation over lateral spatial scales of 10 km or larger. These rotations cannot be attributed to faults as they only have an impact on scales <1 km down to several meters only, as observed in numerous boreholes. Thus, we postulate that most stress orientation changes that are assigned to faults may have a different source.

Karsten Reiter et al.

Status: open (until 05 Oct 2023)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on egusphere-2023-1829', Chris Morley, 24 Sep 2023 reply
  • RC2: 'Comment on egusphere-2023-1829', Vincent Roche, 29 Sep 2023 reply

Karsten Reiter et al.

Karsten Reiter et al.


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Short summary
It is generally assumed that faults have an influence on the stress state of the Earth’s crust. It is questionable whether this influence is still present far away from a fault. Simple numerical models were used to investigate the extent of the influence of faults on the stress state. Several models with different fault representations were investigated. The stress fluctuations further away from the fault (>1 km) are very small.