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THE ORIENTATIONS OF THE PRINCIPAL STRESSES RELATIVE TO A FAULT WITH

KNOWN SHEAR SENSE AND SLIP DIRECTION
The Concepts
σ1: lies at 30o (assuming Byerlee’s Law behavior) to the fault in the plane that is
perpendicular to the fault and parallel to the slip direction. It is at 30o clockwise or
counterclockwise depending on the shear sense (e.g., right or left-lateral) of the fault.
σ2: lies in the plane of the fault at 90o to the slip direction.
σ3: lies in the same plane relative to the fault as σ1, at 90o to σ1.
Steps to take to find the principal stresses.
1. Plot the fault plane (both its great circle and pole) and the slip vector on a stereonet
overlay.
2.Find the plane that is perpendicular to the fault and parallel to the slip direction. This
plane is called the m-plane because movement during faulting happens in directions in
this plane The pole to this plane lies in the fault plane (i.e., along its great circle), at 90o
to the slip direction. Plot this planes pole and its great circle on the overlay. This
plane’s pole is parallel to σ2 (i.e., they plot at the same place on the stereonet).
3. Find σ1. It lies in the great circle of the m-plane that you just drew. It makes a 30o
angle with the fault. Rotate the overlay so that the m-plane lies on a great circle. Count
30o along the m-plane’s great circle from the point (line actually) where it intersects the
fault plane (which is at the slip vector). To determine which direction to count, take into
consideration to the sense of shear (i.e., normal vs. reverse, right-lateral vs. left-lateral) of
the fault.
4. Find σ3. It lies in the m-plane at 90o to σ1.