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Lawrence John Barrows and Geology Department Geography of l l l i n o i s t a t eU n i v e r s i t y S l 6 N o r m a l .l l i n o i s 1 7 9 0  4 4 0 0
ABS T RA CT Finit e eler nent n ro d e l i n g o f i n c o mp re s s i b l e vi scous materials allorvs quantitative anall'sis of dynamic gravitational tectonics. Students who construct sr.rchmodels develop an intirnate appreciation of stress, strain. and strain rate in geologic p ro ces s es ,and t he re s u l ts c a n b e u s e d to d e m on' strate basic gravitational tectonics in a manner that can be easily understood by others. A modei of a plate tectonic spreading center shows the push from the ridge component of the plate tecto n i c dr iv ing f or ce a n d h o ri z o n ta l e x te n s ional stress consistent with normal faulting and earthquakes. A modeled subduction zone shorvs the pull from the trench component of the driving force and stresses consistent with the distribution of earthquake foci within some Benioff zones. Keywords: Education  cornputer assisted; geophysics seismology; geophysics  solid earth; structural geology. IN TRO DUCT I O N Concepts of stress, strain, and strain rate have a va ri e ty of applic at i o n s i n th e g e o l o g i c a l s c i ences. These include the development of metamorphic rock fabric, the flow of glaciers. the forrnation of geologic structures, the movement of tectonic plates, the origin of earthquakes. the nature of seismic q'aves, and the engineering of earth materials. Because of this wide appiicabiiity, geolory students need to develop a sound working familiarity rvith these fundamental co n ce pt s . Geology students should also understand how tectonic stress originates within the earth. Some, if not most, of this stress must ultimately come from gravity acting on the earth's complex density structures. The importance of gravity follows from its ability to exp l a i n m any t ec t oni c p ro c e s s e s a n d o u r fa i l u re to identify alternative mechanisms that produce large stre ss es t hat c an a c t th ro u g h l a rg e d i s p l a c e ments. For example, tides produce stressesthat can act through l a rg e d is plac em ent s , b u t th e i r i n te n s i ty i s l i mi ted, while thermal expansion can produce large stresses, but these are relieved by relatively small displacements. At a global scale, the basic premise of gravitational tectonics is that all mass displacements in the earth must ultimatelv' result from gravity (DeJong and S c h o l t e n ,1 9 7 3 ,p . i x ) . Gra v it at ional t ec to n i c s tre s s h a s b e e n u s e d to explain the ernplacement of salt diapirs (Nettleton, 1 9 3 4 ) a nd t he dev elo p m e n t o f th ru s tr' fo l d b e l ts o n the rrp fl a n ks of m or r nt aino r.rs l i fts (l l e n n i s o n , 1 9 7 6 ; El l i ntt.
Kevin Michael Paul Loomis Laboratory Physics of University lllinois of ll s U r b a n a . l i n o i6 18 0 1 3 0 8 0
1976: Nlilici, 1975: Price, 197:l). To the extent that broad epi rogeni c upl i fts and dow nw arps are isost at ical l y compensated, these verti cal di spl acement s also result from gravity (Stacy, 1969). Even global plate tectonics is usually attributed to some form of thermal convection involving the gravitydriven rise of hot. l ow densi ty materi al and compl ementary sinking of cool, highdensity material (Verhoogen, 1980; W 1' l l i e, 1976). Jacoby (1973) descri bes a vari at ion of this process involving the rise of hot material directly within the spreading centers and the sinking of cool lithosphere in the subduction zones. Some of these gravitational tectonic processes are a little difficult to understand, but in a general sense they can be demonstrated and analyzed with finiteelement computer si mul ati ons. In an effort to better understand gravity, stress, and related phenomena, we have adapted finiteelement modeling to the anal.vsis of gravitydriven tectonic processes.Although the models are simplifred representations of complex geologic phenomena, they demonstrate basic processes and provide some intriguing insights into some of the subtleties. In this paper we review the basic mathematics of stress, strain, and strai n rate; descri be the fi ni teel ement mo deling technique; and present some of our generic models. We also review the gravitational push associated with a simple model of an oceanic spreading center and the pull associated with a model of a subduction zone. The orientation and magnitude of the modeled gravitational tectonic stress are found to be consistent with earthquakes within these environments. BACKGROUND C oordi nates, Tensors, and C oordi nate Transformati ons Stress refers to internal forces acting to deform a material . Elastic strain refers to the recoverable elastic deformation that results from stress. Strain rate refers to the rate of development of permanent deformati on and here i ncl udes al l of the pl asti c, v iscous, and dislocation processes that change the shape of geologic materials. Stress, strain, and strain rate are physicai quantities whose effects are independent of the coordinate system being used to describe a particular problem but w hose numeri c representati ons do depend on t he coordi nate system. P hysi cal quanti ti es w hi ch p ossess thi s general characteri sti c are referred to as tensor s. Stress, strain, and strain rate are most easily handled and understood i n thei r tensor representati on, so a basi c understandi ng of tensors i s desi rabl e for t hose wishing to work with these fields. They can be studied through their orthogonal principal components or
E , J o u r n a l o f G e o s c i e n c e d u c a t i o n v . 4 6 , 1 9 9 8 ,p . 7
A FiniteElement Modeling Approach Gravitational to Tectonic Stress and Earthquakes
through the Nlohrcircle representationl hou'ever. th e se appr oac hesa re i n h e re n tl y l i rn i te d . Stu d ents are b e tte r s er v ed if t t re y a re i n i ti a l l y i n tro d u c e d to the mo re' u' er s at ile t ens o rl rl g e b ra l o rn ra t. Tens or algebr a i s a g e rre ra lc o n c e p t th a t can be a p p l i ed t o s c alar f i e l d s th a t re q r.ri rea s i n g l e ' u ' al uefor th e i r c om plet e s pe c i fi c a ti o n (s u c h a s p re s s u re). vecto r fi elds t hat r equ i re th re e v a l u e s (s u c l r s d i spl acea ment or velocitv), and higherorder fields that re q u i r e a m at r ix of v a l u e s (s u c h a s s tre s s , s tra i n, and stra i n r at e) . T hes e a re d e s i g n a te d a s z e ro thorder te n sor s , f ir s t  or de r te n s o rs , a n d s e c o n d rtrd er tenso rs. r es pec t iv ely . Th e o rd e r o f a te n s o r i n d i c ates the n u mber of s ubs c r i p ts th a t a re a p p e n d e d to i ts symb o l i c r epr es ent at io n a n d to th e n u mb e r o f compon e n ts r equir ed f o r i ts c o rn p l e te s p e c i frc a t i on.For e xa m ple: ftrrce F = F,e', 4J, * fi: on the matc'r'ial on the negati ve si de rvhere .Fr. F:. F3 are the vector com ponent s and €,1d1,d1 are uni t rectorsi n the X ,, X :. X3 coor di. ntrte directions. Stress is defined as the force per unit area. For this particulirr elemental area, the stress colnponents are:
f
._t
F,
lllll
L 1  l /
. 'r I1
rr
r
( t . 
=
.F"
llln
I I l t .,'
L11
\ r
= .,.. ,' n
S i mi l ar expressi ons can be rvri tten for the st r ess components that are acti ng on el emental ar eas or iented perpendi cul ar to the X 1 and X 3 co or dinat e axes. The total stress tensor i s grven by u 3 by 3 matri x of val ues
P(.r,r) u , ( x . 1 ) =i 1 . 2 . 3 .
[,r = t.:.]
fbr a pressuretreld. fbr a r.'ector displacernent l'ield,and
+ [i = 1.2.3 o ',l,(  r .r ) . . ( tbr a stresstreld.
Geologists colnmonly use rectangular coordinates to describe a local site, cylindrical coordinates to describe borehole logs, and spherical coordinates when working with the whole earth. We need to be able to readiiy transform tensor fields and relations from one coordinate system into another. The relation that does this transformation follows from the requirement that the physical effect of a tensor quantity be invariant in a coordinate transformation. For a secondorder tensor the coordinate transformation has the form
J
o,,
= Il o
Ior t o t : o r  ;
i:o ::o :t
Lo r,l o ti o i l
rvhere symmetry (o',; = cri) follorvs from the requirement that internal torques be balanced. Components of the stress tensor located along the main diagonal of this matrix descnbe forces that are normal to the elementai areas and parallel to the coordinate axes. These components are tensions if they are positive and compressions if they are negative. The offdiagonal components represent forces acting paraliel to the elemental areas and are called "shears." For a symmetric secondorder tensor, it can be shown that there is a particular coordinate orientation in which the absolute values of the components located
G, =II
l'=l .r=1
ci,c ,, 1,6
where: ors is the tensor in the original coordinate system, o,, is the tensor in the new coordinate system, and Conis a 3 by 3 square matrix whose elements are the lengths of the unit vectors in the new coordinate system projected onto the coordinate directions of the old system. These are referred to as "direction ct.lsines." U s ing t ens or not a ti o n , p h y s i c a l q u a n ti ti e s such as stre ss and phy s ic al re l a ti o n s s u c h a s H o o k e ' s l arv of l i n e a r elas t ic it y c a n b e e x p re s s e d i n g e n e ra l forms th a t a r e independe n t o f a n y p a rti c u l a r c o o r di nate syste m.
,/ F2
lr
I'.. J
xl
Fi gure 1. C omponentsof a force vector acti ng acr oss an el ementalarea w hi ch i s embedded w i thi n a mater ialand ori ented perpendi cul ar the X z coordi nate axi s. St r ess to o4 i s defi ned as the force per uni t area w here t he f ir st subscri pt i ndi catesthe ori entati onof the el ement alar ea and the second subscri pt i ndi catesthe componentof t he f orce.
Th e St r es s T ens or C ons ider a s m all d i s k s h a p e de l e me n ta l a re a that i s imbedded rvithin a matc.rial and oriented perpendicul a r to t he X 2 c oor din a te a x i s (F i g u re 1 ). T h e materi al o n th e pos it iv e s ide u f tl ri .s e l c n rc n t,a i a re a e xerrs a
J o u r n a l o f G e o s c i e n c e d u c a t i o n v . 4 6 , 1 9 g 8 ,p . 8 E ,
A F i n i t e  E l e m e nM o d e l i n gA p p r o a c ht o G r a v i t a t i o n aT e c t o n i cS t r e s sa n d E a r t h q u a k e s t l
along the nrain diagonal of' the nratrix have ntil.\rrnum or nrinimum magnitudes and the offdiugonal c o m p o n e n t sa r e a l l z e r o s . I n t h i s p a r t i c u l a r c o o r d i n a te s v s t enl, t he s t r e .s ste n s o r c a n b e re p re s e l tt ed b1' :
ii'(i+Airl'\
o,, l 0
"ll
0
O::
0 0
G 1,,
o '.'tr. o int
0
o ruin
I
l
_>
r+Ar,
;)
i
r\ y\r ;, i ; \Ar'
I
i\
,/
\'
d,.+ J
\
i
/>,),
y'o Z_
u(r
\
Th e l ar ges t of t hes e d i a g o n a l c o mp o n e n ts i s re f erred to a s t he r nax im unr p ri n c i p l e s tre s s , th e s m a l l esti s th e mi nim um pr inc i p l e s tre s s , a n d th e o th e r is the i n te rrn ediat e pr inc ip l e s tre s s . Pressure refers to that part of the stress tensor that is uniform in all directions. It is defined as minus the a\/erage of the three components of the stress tensor which are located along the main diagonal, or I P*J(o't*or' *oi3).
Figure 2. Relative deformation ar between two points w i thi n a materi afthat undergoes a conti nuous displacement fi el d speci fi ed by t(/:). The strai n tensor is developed from the gradi entof the di spl acementfi el d.
r/i, = f/i c \'l
Pressure is an example of a tensor inr.ariant whose numeric value is identical in all coordinate representations. Stra i n and S t r ain Ra te Strain refers to deformation rn'ithin a material. In the geologic sciences, we often restrict our attention to recoverabie elastic deforrnations and permanent viscous deformation rates. Elastic deformations include a free component that balances both the body force,qand surface tractions and a lockedin component that exists by virtue of the shape of the material. The lockedin elastic defonnation (and its associated stress) would be present even if all body forces and applied tractions were removed from the body. Strain rate refers to the rate at rvhich nonrecoverable deformation develops. The phvsical nature of elastic strain and nonrecoverable strain rate are profoundly different. However, they both develop in response to the same stress tensor and, in linear isotropic materials, they both can be represented by similar mathematical expressions. The following development initially pertains to elastic strain but is subsequently transformed to relate to strain rate. Consider a material that undergoes a nonuniform deforrnation (Figure 2) specified by the displacement field
?u,
*9A,.. c . Y 3 =i9^,., +f!.r,. c.r: rr,
/
 i    i _
This can be rewritten as
rF
.r:t
/7 IY '

ilIIca,
/ l
?l
./=l
j
L
2 [. 6 rJ, \ r

^\/ , ctti 
 [ C,u, C ' U ; 

\l
e . r i/
2[i.r,
r:rr /.1
^  1.1/'
,v
Lr:r
n 

\ ) r l q . .o,rp,; '/ L/L
*here:=+[;ff) E,i
o/=+[tr *]
Tlre terms r11, r.22,EsB are the change in length per uni t l ength i n X 1, X r, X 3 di recti ons, respect ively. These are extensional strains. The terms rt2, ELB, E2s represent shear strains of the materiai rn'here e12is onehal f the change i n the angl e betw een l i nes in t he nraterial that initiallv paralleled the X1 and X2 coordinate directions. The terms a)12,o)l1, (r)23 are rigid bod"vrotations which can be ignored because they do not represent deformati on of the materi al . Noting that the offdiagonal terms are symmetric 1si:  eli), it can be seen that the deforrnation of the rnateri al i s compl etei y descri bed by si x i ndependent components.
i ( V , / ) = u Q t * L t . t 0+. u \ A 7. :
The differential displacementbetrn'een tn'o locations that are locatedat
iandi+Lrisdl=
d € , 6+ d E 0 : + d i : 0 : , :
For a smoothly varying. continuous displacement fi e l d a nd pr ox ir nal loc a ti o n s , th e X , c o m p o n e n t of the d i ffe re n t ial dis plac en te n t c a n b e e x p re s s e da s
U1; =  t, 1.
_l^'^',,
Lt i;
[r,,
sr:
U l.
rr_r
C:.1
I
t :_.
€ i3
J o u r n a lo f G e o s c i e n c e d u c a t i o r ,v . 4 6 , 1 9 9 8 ,p . g E
A F i n i t e  E l e m e nM o d e l i n gA p p r o a c h t o G r a v i t a t i o n aT e c t o n i c S t r e s s a n d E a r t h q u a k e s t l
Stra in ( c hange in l e n g th p e r u n i t l e n g th ) i s di rnensi o nles s . I t s phy s i c a l e ffe c t i s i n d e p e n d e n t o [ the coo rd i nat e s y s t em in w h i c h i t i s e x p re s s e d ;th u s, strai n i s a s ec ond or dert e n s o r. L i k e th e s tre s s te rl s o r. there exists one particular coordinate system in u'hich the co mponent s of t h e s tra i n te n s o r l o c a te d a l ong the ma i n diagonal ar e m a x i m u m s o r m i n i m u m s and the offdiagonal components are zeros. In this particular coordinate system oi, + i(DSt + 2u r,, rvhere: oi j ). O
ir I t.( I
(Equation l)
i s the stress tensor, is the first Lame coefllcient. i s the di l ati on, is the Kronecker deita,
'l{)r=,
I
!r 'U
=l u,; 0
[u
',
00 t:: 0 0
I
r:: I
frn,"* I
Lt'in .J
is the shear modulus (or second Lame coefficient), and is the strain tensor.
lo
loj',"'f
These are usually referred to as the principle strains. The change in volume per unit volume is called dilation (or compression if the change is negative). D i l a tion c an be exp re s s e d a s O = rtl * Ez z r s3.Li ke * pressure, the numeric value of dilation is the same in all coordinate systems (a tensor invariant). For linear elastic materials, pressure is related to dilation through the bulk modulus B where p = BO. We initially referred to u as a displacement field. If this represents an elastic displacement field, then e;; is the elastic strain tensor. However, in viscous or plastic materials, the displacement field can change lvith time, and its time derivative represents a spatially continuous deformation rate. A deformationrate field would be expressed as
Y oung' s modul us and P oi sson' s rati o are aiso used to describe the elastic properties of a material. Young's rnodulus is defined as the proportionality constant relating axial stress to axial strain in an unconfined elastic rod. Poisson's ratio is defined as minus the ratio of the radialtoaxial strains in an unconfined elastic rod. Stretching the rod should increase its volume so the dilation is greater than zero and P oi sson' s rati o i s betw een zero and 0. 5. Rocks typi cal l y have P oi sson' s rati o of about 0.3. There are only two truly independent elastic constants; thus. the various elastic moduli are interrel ated. S ome of these rel ati ons are gi ven below.
\bung's !{odulus Bulk N{odulus Shear lt{odulus
IJ 3(l}i)
L
n
p(3i+2p;
l+p tr E :(l+u)
t" t)

Au
=
ct
Au, ^
f
G.t
Au. ^
f
tr!
Au^ ^
.
'u
0t0t'etet The strainrate tensor is developedin a manner analogous to the developmentof the elastic strain tensor. One distinction is that the dilation rate.
P o r s s o n 'R a t i o s FirstLanleCoeffrcient
2(i+p1
..tr
.UL L
(ltuXl2u)
+
OT
is normally assumed to be equal to zero. The corresponding viscous bulk modulus is infinite. Aside: The assumption of negligible uiscous dilation may not be correct. If the uiscous bulk modulus is finite, then earth materials can adjust their internal uolumetric shape in a manner that balances the eristing pressure enuironment. Rocks which solidify at depth and are su.bsequently exposed at the surface u,ould then contain u lockedin pressure that tends to force the material apart causing spalling, exfoliation, and physical disintegration. Lockedin pressure tuould olso balance the lithostatic pressttre that acts e cro s s pot ent ial f a u l t s u rfa c e s . F o u l ti n g o t depth would then not require ttnusual poreLuater pressure (for example, see Huhbert and Ruby, 1959 ctnd deepfo cu s ear t hquak es w o u l d n o t re q u i re u n u s u al faul t zone conditions (for example, see Bolt, 1993).
W e need to devel op consti tuti ve equati ons which must be satisfied by the displacement field everywhere within an elastic material or the displacement rate fi el d everyw here w i thi n a vi scous mat er ial. These constitutive equations let us formulate the analysis of gravityloaded density structures as boundaryvalue problems which can be solved with finiteelement models. The initial development will be for an elastic deformation freld. This will subsequently be transformed into the constitutive equation for a viscous displacement rate field. S tati c equi l i bri um (that i s, a si tuati on u'her e there is no acceleration) requires that the gradient of stress be balanced bv bodv forces. or
t ,O ; C',Y,
I
(6
;t
( .rt
^'51
I
C ' O'' : '
ro. =0,
a'rl
w'here: g, is the body tirrce per unit volume
Substituting Hooke'slaw for the stress tensor and the definitionsfor dilation and stressvields:
Stress, Strain,and the Constitutive Equations A variety of equations relate elasticstrain to
stre ss . F or linear (H o o k e a n ) a n d i s o tro p i c m a t eri al s, L h e nr os t gener al e x p re s s i o n i s :
\rr
'U
:3
)
!_/
l l ; . A .nL t ( / "  r ,1 1'i ; . / t
.
l l t .. r r . . i ^ i
o{
g, = 0
Al
ll=l
J o u r n a l o f G e o s c i e n c e d u c a t i o h v . 4 6 , 1 9 9 8 ,p . 1 0 E ,
M l A F i n i t e  E l e m e n t o d e l i n gA p p r o a c ht o G r a v i t a t i o n aT e c t o n i cS t r e s s a n d E a r t h q u a k e s
where indices follou'ing a conrrna irnpll' partial differe n ti a t ion. Subs t it ut ing f o r th e fi rs t L a rn e c o e ffi c i e nt. the shear rnodulus.and the bulk modulus vields: r r ,
/^\ lI irr,
u i ;  
(It' I
r 'lt 'i ' I
I
l .
"
]ltl'r'
\
(Equation 3)
.i
rnd the stress tensor follot's from
, ,f , , , ^  i l . l  * . = 0 . 1
l;i 
(Equation 2)
oij = 2!r(r'HtJ,eii) +
lEquation 4)
p is the shear modules. where: ,, io tt the mean pressurerunctlon' f/ = g , I ; = f to,, Tur, is young's modulus a'd is the nesatiye Dressure.
The displacement field a; and the mean pressure function fi must satisfy this basic constitutive equation everywhere within an elastic solid. Including the mean pressure function in the relation provides a constitutive equation which is valid for both compressible and fully incornpressible elastic materials (Herrmann, 1965). For linear viscous materials, the displacement rate field and the mean pressure function must also satisfy this constitutive equation. In the viscous interpretation, p is the viscosity and for fully incompressible materials, the viscous Young's modulus relating stress to strain rate is 1.5 times the viscosity. Over extendedintervals of geologictime, earth materials maintain their approximate volumes but may permanently deform into new configurations. The rate of deformation increaseswith increasing shear stress. On the shorter time scale of seismic waves, they behave elastically. The simplest rheologic model which is reasonably consistentn'ith this behavior is viscoelasticity with incompressible linear (Newtonian) viscosity and compressible linear (Hookean) elasticity. The density structures that are responsible for gravitational tectonics persist for extended intervals oftime, so our tectonic models are based on longperiod incompressibleviscous flow. In these viscous models, an elastic deformation is linked to, or follows, the viscous deformation rate through the common stress tensor. The models then apply to both Newtonian viscous and Hookean elastic materials. BoundaryValue Problems and the FiniteElementMethod The solution to a genelal boundaryvalueproblem is one or more continuous fields u'hich simultaneously satisfy an appropriate constitutive equation ever1,.wherewithin the material and the boundary conditions on the external surfaces of the bodl'. Fr,rr an isotropic linearelasticproblem, Equation 2 is a form of the constitutiveequation that must be satisfied by the displacement field ui and mean pressure function 1/. The boundaryconditionsare either specified displacements of the surface or prescribed traction on the surface of the bodl'. If the continuous displacement field and mean pressure function can be found. the strain tensor follows from:
.\ viscous boundary value problem is similar to an elastic problem except Poisson'sratio is 0.5 (incompressibleflorv) and tie elastic shear modulus is replaced by the viscositv. The unknou'n fields in a viscousproblem are the mean pressure function and displacementrates and the boundary conditions are either speci.fieddisplacement rates or prescribed traction. With these substitutions, the strain rate tensor and the stress tensor are as depictedin Equations 3 and 4 above. For rnany problems ofint€rest, the displacementsor displacement rates and the spatial rates of change of the physical paramet€rs are much less in one coordinate direction than they are in the other two directions. These problems are analyzed with twodimensional, plane strain elastic models or plane strain rate viscous models. In twodimensional problems, the model is a cross section through the bodl'and the displacements or displacement rates lie *'ithin the plane of the cross section. An exact solution to a boundaryvalue problem has an infinite number of unknowns because there are an infinite number of locations within a continuous material. The frniteelement method replaces the continuously varying fields with continuous modeled frelds whose values depend on a finite number of unknown variables. The simplest modeled field (and the one used in our programs) consists of an assemblage of triangular elements interconnected at a finite number ofnodal points (Figure 3). The unknown fields are assumed to vary in a linear fashion between the three nodes of each triangular element. With this linear interpolation model. the field at any location within a triangle equals the spatially weighted average of the values of the field at the three nodes of the triangle. The field is continuous, but the gradient of the freld between adjacent triangular elements is discontinuous. Once the area of a planestrain problem has been subdivided into triangular elements, the solution to the boundaryvalue problem is the values of the unknown fields at the frnite number ofnodal points. It should be recognized that the solution to a frniteelement model approaches the exact solution to the boundaryvalue problem as the number of nodal points becomes large and the size ofthe elements becomes small. Introductory reference texts on the firniteelement method include Zienkiewicz(1971)and Desai and Abel (1972). In addition to equilibrium among the forces,the solution to an elastic boundary value problem minimizes the stored internal energy and the solution to a viscousproblem marimizes the rate of energy dissipation.Theserequirements form the ph;'sicalbasis for the finiteelementmethod.
Journal of Geoscience Education,v.46, 1998,p. 11
l A F i n i t e  E l e m e nM o d e l i n gA p p r o a c ht o G r a v i t a t i o n aT e c t o n i cS t r e s s a n d E a r t h q u a k e s t
,l trl' /.tL:,rL Srrrfrcc Tr:rction \ ,t r I
\
{
8od1 lorces
t .,'11
IJ_
I
Spccilied Displncemtnls lfire rertic;tlly. fircd horizontlllv)
rl'
t e l
{ l*
Displrcement :rnrl menn prtl.srrte fields
i l re functi ons of the unknow ns. are the unknol vns at those nodes t o w hi ch the i ' th node i s connected. are constants.
iit r.1',r.t! '1 lI{ r.yz.t)
,f
and
(li
\
Fired Displacentettts
Theseequati ons (one for each model vari a ble) ar e arrarlged into a murtnx fbrmat
tAl{L'}= {Qi
r,vhere: lA'l is the model stiffness matrix. {Ll is the vector of all unknowns for all nodes in the model, and {8} is the vector of constants for all nodes in the model. Fi nal l y, Gauss el i mi nati on i s used to fi nd t he inverse of the model stiffness matrix [Ki] so that Figure 3. A cross section through an elongatebody which is subjectedto body forces, surface tractions,and specified d i sp l a c em ent s . T he s e c o n d fi g u re i s a fi n i te ' el ement model of this body. ln the model, distributed body forces a n d s ur f ac e t r ac t io n s a re re p re s e n te d b y e q u i val ent forces acting at the nodes.
{Ui = t/( 1l{8}
w here: { U } i s the desi red answ er. Once the appropriate programs have been written and verifred, the challenging problems are model
energy' or rate of energy dissipation, / 1 1 r \
exglession totar ffiri'J*""1fiuy:J;ijll);,":tli#J,li"lil"","rtll:: forthe deverop ageneral wefirst
programs unstable fullvincompressible mateare for o.. in,,,, lou i[ I l t . " , " ' ' r,,,.1s. r i a l s a n d c a n n o tb e u s e d f o r t h e a n a l y s i s f l a r g e . o u/J) i
i=l " l)" ' qate it gravityloaded density structures. Stable programs require inclusion of some form of the pressure field, such as Herrmann's (1965) mean pressure function, in the solution. GENERICMODELS A Fectangular Bidge d,rr first generic cornputer model is a cross section through a simple rectangular ridge (Figure 4). The objectives of this model are to demonstrate our modeling technique and show the format used to display the resulting deformation and stress. The base of the modeled ridge is constrained vertically br:t is free to move horizontally, whereas the righthand side is constrained horizontally but free to move vertically. This boundary condition on the righthand side can be regarded as a plane of symmetry running through a ridge which is twice as broad as the computer rnodel, and this interpretation is employed in
1
ii"", r"a display. For fully incompressible materials, Poisson's ratio equals 0.5 and the first Lame coeflicient is infinite. Most publigdomain finiteelement
l'= if f  ltI"
J J J  ) 4 ' ! u rihr€ \ ,r /=r
where: €,,rs the strarn or sf,rarnraf,ef,ensor, 6i.is the.stresstens^or, , 8'i rs the Dodylorce ltelo. z; is the displacement or displacementrate field, and f, is the surfacetraction In a finiteelement model, stress and strain can be expressed as matrix equations involving the product of arrays of constants and the vector of the nodal point displacements and mean pressure function. The body forces and surface tractions are expressed as vectors of nodal loads. The general expression for the total energy, or rate ofenergy dissipation, is then a function of only the unknown frelds at the nodes, or V = V(Ut, U2,...,Ui, where: U;i = 1,...J are the unknown flreldsat the nodal points.
Followingthe calculusofvariations, minimization of the total energ'y, or maximization of the rate of energy dissipation, with respect to unknown fields requires that
our model displays.The material is fully incompressible and has a uniform density of 1.0 gm/cc. Lengths are in kilometers and the viscosityequals 0.67 x 10tl Poise (dynes,'cm2sec). model has 48 tnangular The elementswith 32 nodes. Finiteelement analysis of this model solves for the nodal point displacementrates. These are disdi spl acement (Fi gure 5). The l engths of the l ines ar e
linear in orN rhisresults aser simultaneous equations :i?""rtrtt["fi1t;"]it.iT:iT^l#".ri'Jirtt"Jt:ffil:
f , ( U , , ' , U) = 4 , ,i = 1 , . . . . . \ ' il rvhere:
3ili.'ll?il:'rl',i[:,*ll]:r,fi :::f,ffi :.T.'l""JJil:
E , J o u r n a lo f G e o s c i e n c e d u c a t i o h v . 4 6 , 1 9 9 8 ,p . 1 2
A FiniteElement Modeling Approach to Gravitational Tectonic Stress and Earthquakes
planeof symmet y \
initial shape
tjo*
gravitational body force
t,l
.Y
l
t.
4 time steps
t(' ,'''a
t
E time steps
++ lenglh 20 km
Figure4. Finiteefement moder a cross sectionthrough of a gravityloaded rectangurar ridge.rne uoundaiy conoiside mik"" iriir ,prJ,ie'or symlol llgng the righthand metrythrougha ridgethatis twiceas broad'istt,emoder.
12 time steps
symmetry
r l{1   tt 4/tl
///t
<_
J>
16 time steps
i/
/

Figure6. Cummufative viscous dispfacements due to gllvitv foadingof a rectangutar, ridgei i;;; i;;e step of one vear of igm,'cc,itre materiii'vis"olity porse. "nd ",i:lsity is 0.67x 1011
using the new distortedmodel.In theseviscous moders, the duration of the time step is orruy"ur.* stress is constant within each or tn. triangurar elementsof the finiteelementmodel. It I /" is iound by 2 lfirst calculating the strain rate rvithin each element a.ndthen applying the appropriate ,t."..rirain tion to the modeledstrain. Stress is displayedrela_ as a parr of rntersectingperpendicularii"u.tiuf are the d i s p l a c e m e nrta t e tyo plincipal stressesin the prane of the cross secI fength tion. The third intermediatestress is perpendicurar / to the plane of the crosssectionand is not'or.pra1,ed. t' s kml vear compressivestresshas simple qtraight ii"".,u"d extensionalstress.isindicated'byin.r,r?irg ;;lih circles Figure Viscous 5. at dispracement (or instantaneous the ends of the rines.The iengtnr oi"tr,.iirru, u"" rates efastic dispracementsi to giavityrdiaiiig a visco_ proportionar to. th.e ampritude Jf the due s oi .t".., at the efasticrectangular ridge. same scaleas the key below the displal * Stressis traditionaily divided into i'fiessltre u grqit.i'loaded comrecrangular ridge to col_ ponent,rvhich .,of fl9.i:l' acts to changethe volum; ;i;" mateIapse and spread under its own weight. cuirulative riai. and a sh,ear "f c.otnponenT, which u.t, to .nange the viscous deformation (Figure 6) ."n 1. fo""J by .se internal.anglss. Another n.a5,. display s;;;;, is as to displacing each nocralpoinrtitn" dis gra'itational 1y_entyally. tectonicstressivhich i.'[..u JuG."a p r a c e r n e n tr a t e a n d t h e n r e r u ' n i n g the anarvsis the total stress minus the lithostatic overhurden ". Journal of GeoscienceEducatiof,, 46, 1g9g, v. p. 13
i'/
,/

J zorm
l___;
Modeling Approach to GravitationalTectonic Stress and Earthquakes A FiniteElement
F\rl
1 4 \ ' q h  l
i
I
di spl ay than the tradi ti onal di vi si on of to t al st r ess i nto pressure and shear stress. Thi s format is used e x c l u s i v e l y i n t h e s u b s e q u e n tm o d e l s . The lnternal Ridge The next model i s a 2Oki l ometerhi g h densit y ri dge ernbedded rvi thi n sol i d materi al . The object ive of thi s model i s to demonstrate how i nterna l densit y structures, such as the roots of mountai ns, can cr eat e gravi tydri ven di spl acements. The model also dem onstrates that gravitydriven displacements are the re*ult of lateral (not vertical) density structures. Figure 8 shows the model and its boundary conditions. The base of the model is fixed, the lefthand side is supported by a horizontal traction equal to the lithostatic overburden pressure, and the righthand side is free in the vertical direction but flrxed horizontally (that is, the righthand side is a plane of symmetry). The materiai has a uniform viscosity and is fully incompressible. By varying the material density configuration, this frniteelement model will be used to explore a variety of different situations. For the first situation, the material above the interface is assigned a density of 1.0 gnt/cc and the material below the interface a density of 2.0 gm;'cc. The internal ridge then has a positive density contrast. This density configuration contains gteater gravitational potential enerry than would be present if the same material were arranged in flat layers with the less dense material on top. Because the configuration is in a state of elevated gravitational potenti al energy, gravi tati onal tectoni c str ess and free surface
f4'\\.i
bar 10,000 stress lenEh 20 km compression extension
+
Figure 7. Gravitationaltectonic stress within the gravity' loided rectangular ridge. Gravitationaltectonic stress is here defined as the total stress minus the lithostaticover' burden pressure at the point in question. pressure. Figure 7 shows that for the rectangular ridge, the gravitational tectonic stress is predominantly a horizontal ext'ension consistent with spreading of the material. We have found that the gravitational tectonic stress format provides a more informative
lit hos E at ic pressure
x
)
rtN ii.l'rJ
\\N^r,
Length
fixed
surface
m
0 50 100
densitystructure. The heavydark linerunningthroughthe middleot the modelof an internal Figufe8. Finiteelement with ditterent densilies' malerials ligureseparates E J o u r n a l o f G e o s c i e n c e d u c a t i o r ,v . 4 6 , 1 9 9 8 ,p . 1 4
A F i n i t e  E l e m e nM o d e l i n gA p p r o a c h t o G r a v i t a t i o n aT e c t o n i cS t r e s s a n d E a r t h q u a k e s t l
free surface
)
Lithostatic Pressure
1.0 gm/cc
+
I
4>1
2.0 gm/cc
Length (km) rTl 0 50 100
Figure 9, Oisplacemenlrates due to gravity loading of a positive densily structure. Gravity lends to flatten the ridge and lower the net gravitationalpotential energy in the structure. gravitydriven displacement rates are present. These displacement rates are shown in Figure 9. Note that if the density structure could be maintained by some unspecifred process, the displacement rate would be continuous and the ridge along with the less dense overlying material would continuously sink into a more dense underlying material. We will explore the implications of this ohservation in a later model of a plate tectonic subductionzone.
For the next situation. the relative densities were reversed, with the upper material set at 2.0 gm/cc and the lower material at 1.0 gnicc. This is a density inversion whose deformation can be regarded as a growing diapir, The gravitydriven displacement rates were exactly identrcal to those rn Figure 9 except their directions were reversed. Th e f inal s it uat ion i s s i mi l a r to th e s e c o n d e xcept that density everywhere increases with depth, and the ridge is represented solely by a lateral density v a ri a ti o n ( F igur e 10 ). T h e re s u l ta n t d i s p l a c e ment rates were found to be exactly ident,ical to those of t he se co nd s it uat ion. E q u a l i ty b e tw e e n th e d i s p l aceme n t ra t es in t hes e t w o mo d e l s d e mo n s tra te s th a t i n in co mp res s ible v is c ou s ma te ri a l s th e g ra v i ta ti onal t e cto n i c s t r es s and t h e re s u l ti n g d i s p i a c e m e n t rat.es re su l t fr om lat er al ( n o t v e rti c a l ) d e n s i ty v a ri a ti o ns. Vertical density inversions are ineffective because if t he ma te r ials wer e arra n g e d i n e x a c tl y p l a n e l a ;' ers. t he stres s would ev e ry w h e re e q u a l th e l i th o s tati c overburden pressure and no shear deformation
would occur. Finally, note that if the lateral density structure could be maintained by some unspecified process,the displacement rates would be continuous and a diapir of more dense material can rise up into overlJing less dense material. We will explore sorne implications of this observation in a lat€r model of a plate tectonic spreading center. Viscous Detormation of a Simple Fold
Our third generic model is a simple fold formed by horizontal compression of a viscositystratified materi al . The model (Fi gure 11) has a 40metert hick, moreviscous layer sandwiched between two 80meterthick softer layers. Nlaterials are fully incompressible and the viscosity of the stiff layer is 100 times that of the softer layers. The modeled stiff layer initially has a slight bulge near the left side to initiate the fold. Without some initial perturbation from exactly plane la,vers, the computer model uniformly compresses the rnateri al rvi thout devel opi ng a f old. Nlaterial densities for this generic model were arbitrarily set at I gm/cc. The base of the fol d model i s constrai ned ver t ically but is free to move in the horizontal direction, rvhereas the ri ght si de i s constrai ned hori zont ally but free to move in the vertical direction. The left si de i s moved 10 rneters to the ri ght duri ng each t im e step. Fi gure 12 show s the resul tant deformat ion. S ome observati ons are (1) a l ' i scosi ty contras t between the la1'ers is required for frrld formation and
J o u r n a l o f G e o s c i e n c eE d u c a t i o f ,v . 4 6 , 1 9 9 8 ,p . 1 5 ,
A F i n i t e  E l e m e nM o d e l i n gA p p r o a c h t o G r a v i t a t i o n aT e c t o n i cS t r e s s a n d E a r t h q u a k e s t l
length
(kn) r_00
oso
Figure 10. Finite'element model ot a lateraldensity structur€.The diplacementsare identicallo those associatedwith a negativedensity structure, showing that it is th; lateraldensity cdntrasts,not the vertical,ttrit creare the detormalion.
,.,}.
vtg rr2 F
(l)q)
E' E o E
.2
'( ,,'
.
s6 aa
(J
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,'l'
i "l.t' 
''
ob
u)
Eq) q)E Xr{ v IJr
I .' I .*

^._
I
Lengh(meters) A
50 100
(100: I viscosify contrast, I gm/cc)
Flgure 11. Finile'element modelof a vjscositystratified layermaterial, Forceddisplaeements the tett side ot the ot modeldemonstrate development an intarnal the ol lold. (2) because..gravit"v compresses the model, the fold plate Tectonic Spreading Center to de"elops within the layered material without subPlate tectonici refers the now wideh. accepted stantial defurrnationof the upper free surface. theory that the earth'i ;;ir; i; subdivided into Journal of Geoscience Education,v. 46, 1999, p. 16
A FiniteElement Modeling Approach Gravitational to Tectonic Stressand Earthquakes
Spreadl.ng Cerrt.er
Initial Shape
**Ll c.Lrorptrcra
__
tu
Fi gure 13. C onceptual model of an oceani c sp r eading center. The tendency for the cooler, moredense lithosphere to slide off the upward pointed wedge of hotter, lessdense astenosphere constitutes the push from the ri dge componentof the pl ate tectoni c dri vi ng for ce.
5 Time Steps
l0 Time Steps
15 Time Steps
timeter
100 : I viscosify confrast 1.0 gm/ cc
Fi g u re 12. P r ogr es s ive d e fo rma ti o n o f a fo l d w i t hi n a viscositystratified layered material. about a dozen reiatively rigid lithospheric plates that move with respect to each other. The contacts betw e e n plat es inc lud e (1 ) s p re a d i n g c e n te rs , al ong wh i ch new oc ean f l o o r i s c re a te d . e ) s u b d ucti on zones, along which ocean floor returns to the earth's interior, and (3) transform faults. where plates slide
past each other. Spreading centers are associated u'ith bathymetric ridges and subduction zones are usually associated utth bathlrnetric trenches. Continents are composed of'less dense material which is rafted along with the plates but, because of their lighter densities, do not subduct. Descriptive plate geometry and the relative motions of the plates have been reasonably rvell determined (for example, see Cox, 1973). The dynamic driving mechanism behind the plate motions is less rvell understood but probably involves some form of thermal convection (for example. see W1'llie, 1976). One potential mechanism is the gravitydriven rise of hot. lowdensity material within the spreading centers and the complementary sinking of cool, highdensity material in the subduction zones. In this push from the ridge, pull from the trench mechanism, the shape of the convection cells is determined by the configuration of the plates. The return flow that completes the convection cycle rvould occur in the lowr'iscosit;' asthenosphere that underlies the lithosphere. Jacoby (19?0) has shou'n that the energetics of this process is physically consistent. He also notes inconsistencies with alternative models involving deepseated convection cells that drag the plates (Jacoby, 1973). The push from the ridge, pull from the trench mechanism is the basis for our piate tectonic models. Our model of a spreading center (Figure 13) has a smoothly thickening layer of lithosphere on an upward pointed rvedge of the asthenosphere. Boundary conditions and the finiteelement structure are shorvn in Figure 14. The upper surface of this model is free, the base is fixed, and the sides are supported
Lithostatic Pre ss ur e ) > _+
l>
Lithostatic Pressure + <_<._ <IOO lClometers 3.OO gmlcc on 2.92 gm/cc (+0.O8 gmlcc contrast)
Figure14.Flniteelement modelol an oceanic spreadlng center.The lithosphere 0.08gm/cc more densethan the is underlyingaslhenosphere.and ridge aris is 0.84km tbove the sea floor it the siOesotifri mooll. The sides ot the the model are supporled by a lithostatic overburdenpressure. Journal ol Geoscience Education, v. 46, 1999,p. 1Z
Tectonic Stress and Earthquakes Modeling Approach to Gravitationaf A FiniteElement
100
360
240
120
120
240
360
120
0 (km) Distance
The displacements the sidesof al centermodel. ratesdue to gravityloadingot the spreading Flqure 5. Displacemenl below thE model shdw the pushtromthedge cdmponentof the ilate tectonic driving force, and the displacements the ridge show the tendency of gEvity to move materialup into the ridge.
by lateral surface traction equal to the lithostatic overburden. The upper surface, or seafloor bathymetry, mimics the shape of the lithospheretoasthenosphere contact. but its relief is too small to show on the scale of Figure 14. Initially the crest of the ridge at the center of the model was two kilometers above the sea floor at the sides and the increased weight of the ridge bathymetry was exactly balanced by the wedge of asthenosphere. This model was isostatically balanced so the total lithostatic overburden across its base was constant. With this configuration there was a tendency for the ridge to subside vertically, reflecting the fact th a t e x ac t is os t as y d o e s n o t c o m p e n s a te fo r ongoi ng viscous deformation. We next adjusted the height of the ridge until the surface defcrrmation rate was pred o mi nat ely hor iz on ta l . T h i s re s u l te d i n a ri d g e that wa s 0. 84 k ilom et er h i g h a t th e c re s t a n d w :rs i sostati ca l l y ov er c om pensa te d , The assumed density contrast between the lithosphere and asthenosphere is 0.08 gm/cc. Recall from the previous model of an internal ridge that lateral, not vertical, density variations determine the gravitational tectonic stress and deformation rates. The modeled displacement rates do not require a vertical density inversion, although a vertical inversion of about 0.05 grrlcc probably does exists between oceanic lithosphere and the underlying asthenosphere (for exampl e, see P ress, 1969). Figure 15 shows the pattern of gravity induced deformation rates within the total model and at a larger scale for the materiai directly beneath the ridge crest. On the totai model, the outwarddirected di spl acements of the i i thosphere at the si des of t he model are the pushfromtheri dge compone nt of t he pl ate tectoni c dri vi ng force. The di spl aceme nt r at es di rectl y beneath the ri dge show the tende ncy f or deepc'r mirterial to rise up under the frrrce of gravity
E , J o u r n a l o f G e o s c i e n c e d u c a t i o f ,v . 4 6 , 1 9 9 8 ,p . 1 8
A F i n i t e  E l e m e nM o d e l i n gA p p r o a c ht o G r a v i t a t i o n aT e c t o n i c S t r e s s a n d E a r t h q u a k e s t l
100 bar . tension
compression
*
G{_r Gir+{o;+++e  C+.
=l'
. 3.
.at
etsFr
*f=
.*a
t!
t
a
Figure 16. Gravitationaltectonic stress beneath the ridge crest. The maxi mum stress i s a hori zontalextensionequal to 65 bar and a shear stress equal to 30 bar. This stress is consistent with both normal faulting and earthquakesalong the ridge crest. into the axis of the ridge. If the bathymetry and density structure of the ridge result from thermal conduction or cooling as suggested by Sclater and Francheteau (1970), then the density structure is selfmaintained and the spreading process is indefrnitely continuous. For a viscosity of 1020 Poise, the mo d e l e d half s pr ea d i n g ra te i s o n e c m/y e a r . The spreading rate in the model is inversely proportional to the assumed viscositv. Figure 16 shows the gravitational tectonic stress within the ridge crest. This display uses the same format as the simple rectangular ridge (Figure 7), but to avoid confusion, not all of the available data were plotted. The gravitational tectonic stress shows a ma xim um hor iz o n ta l e x te n s i o n a l o n g th e ri dge crest of 65 bar. The corresponding shear stress is 30 bar, where shear stress equals one half the difference between the maximum and minimum principle stresses. The central areas of spreading centers typically show highangle normal faulting or rifting consistent with horizontal extensional stress (for example, se e Isac k s , O liv er , a n d Sy k e s , 1 9 6 8 ). Pl a te Tec t onic S ubd u c ti o n Z o n e Our denqitymodel for a subduction zone is similar to that of a spreading center in that both involve a 1 O0 kilom et er  t hic k l i th o s p h e re th a t i s 0 .0 8 gml cc l a te ra lly r nor e dens e th a n th e s u rro u n d i n g mantl e. Th e su bduc t ed lit ho s p h e re e x te n d s d o w ' n i n to the ma n tl e at a 45o ang l e a s a s l o p i n g w e d g e . F i g u re 17 sh o w s t he c onc ept u a l m o d e l , a n d F i g u re 1 8 show s the arrangement of finite elements and modeled b o u n d a r y c ondit ions . th As init ially c onf  rg u re d , e u p p e r s u rfi rc e of' the model, or seafloor bathymetry, rvas flat. This model
Figure 17. Conceptual model of an oceanic subduction zone. The tendency for the cooler, more dense lithosphere to sink into the hotter underlying mantle constitutes the pullfromthetrench component of the platetectonic dri vi ng force. had a strong tendency for vertical subsidence over the subducted wedge. The configuration of the upper surface of the model was then adjusted until the sea floor exhibited a predominantly horizontal displacement rate. These adjustments, dictated by the dynamics of the model, resulted in a twokilometerdeep trench at the location indicated on Figure 18. The implication is that trench bathymetry is a consequence of the dynamics of gravitational tectonics. The di spl acement rates i n the modei are plot t ed in Figure 19. These shorv the tendency for the moredense subducted l i thosphere to si nk i nto the u nder lying material. The inwarddirected displacements of the lithosphere along the Ieft side of the model are the pullfrontthetrench component of the platetectonic driving force. For a model viscosity of 5 x 1022Poise, the rate of subduction is one cm/year. This rate is inversell' proportional to the selected viscosity.
E J o u r n a l o f G e o s c i e n c e d u c a t i o h , . 4 6 , 1 9 9 8 ,p . 1 9 v
l A F i n i t e  E l e m e nM o d e l i n g A p p r o a c ht o G r a v i t a t i o n aT e c t o n i cS t r e s sa n d E a r t h q u a k e s t
ModeledTrench {
Lithostatic Pressure t
)
) €
100kilometers
3.00gm/ccon 2.92gm/cc ( +0.08gm/cccontrast)
Fioure 18. Finite element model of an oceanic subduction zone. The lilhosphere is 0.08 gm/cc laterally more dense th;n the asthenosphere.Adiusting the bathymetry to remove vertical detormationol the sea lloor resulted in a trench at the indicated localion. twokilometerdeep
I I
.l
I
1I
Dirnensionless
(viscosity and the time unit are arbitrary)
The displacements lhe uPPer al zonemodel. ratesdue to gravityloadingof the subduction FiEure19. Displacement lefr side of th; model show the pull.lromthetrenchcomponent ot the plate tectonic driving lorce. The downdiP show the subduction. disolacements Journal of GeoscienceEducatiof,,v. 46, 1998,p. 20
t A F i n i t e  E l e m e nM o d e l i n gA p p r o a c ht o G r a v i t a t i o n aT e c t o n i cS t r e s sa n d E a r t h q u a k e s l
/"/
\
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,+
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+
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100 brr
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Figure 20. Gravitationaltectonic stress within the subduction zone model. The stress is a vertical compression in the upper part of the subducted plate and a horizontal extension in the lower part.
200brr X
4 tenllon
300 brr
Y
n compresslon
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.'
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Figure21. The magnitude the gravitational ot shearstresswithinthe subduction zonemodel. The stress distribution comparesfavorablywith the disiribution ot earthquakesin the Benioft zone beneathHonshu,Japan (Figure 221, The gravitational tectonic stress (Figure 20) shows vertical compression within the upper side of the subducted plate and horizontal extension within the lower side.The magnitude ofthe associated shezLr stressexceeds 100 bar and is contouredin Figure 21. This shear shess magnitude corresponds remarkably rvell with the distribution of earthquake foci s'ithin some subductionzones. For example,compareFigure
Journal of GeoscienceEducatioh,v. 46. 1998,p. 21
A F i n i t e  E l e m e nM o d e l i n gA p p r o a c h t o G r a v i t a t i o n aT e c t o n i cS t r e s s a n d E a r t h q u a k e s t l
t.{
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 .{,
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r
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 l
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; $
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l 200 tlOD km ./
Figure 22. Distribution of earthquakes within the Benioff zo n e beneat h Hons h u , J a p a n (H a s e g a w a a n d others, 1978 form Bolt, 1982).VF is the volcanic front and TA is the trench axis. The earthquake distribution compares favorably with the modeled shear stress magnitudes contoured in Figure 21. 2L with Figure 22, which shows earthquake foci in th e B eniof f s eis m i c z o n e b e n e a th H o n s h u , Japan (Hasegawa and others, 1978 from Boit, 1982). Again recall that in our models, gravitational tectonic stress and deformation rates result from lateral density contrasts. The modeled subduction process does not require a vertical density inversion; thus, a lithosphere which is less dense at the lorn'er pressures that exist near the surface can sink into a more dense, higher pressure environment. If the lateral density structure results largely from the lower temperatures within the subducted lithosphere, then the subduction process would be indefrnitely continuous. The stress drop associated with earthquakes refers to the coseismic decrease in the component of the shear stress which is acting parallel to the slip on the fault surface. This parameter can be calculated th ro u g h det ailed a n a l y s i s o f s e i s mo g ra ms a nd i s commonly found to be in the range of 10 to 100 bar (for example, see Kasahara, 1981). The magnitude of the shear stress in both the spreading center and subduction zone models is comparable to this range indicating that gravitational tectonic stress is capable of providing essentially all of the stress drop asso ci a ted wit h ear t h q u a k e s i n th e s e e n v i ro n ments. The simplest earthquake mechanism is to have the potential faults fail in a direct response to the gral'itational tectonic stress. As shown in Barrows and Langer (1981) and Barrows (in review), the energetics of thrs process involves the release of gravitational potential enerry from the stresscausing density structure and an increase in stored elastic strain energy. CONCLUSIONS Th e pr ec eding m a te ri a l i s a p ro g re s s re p o rt of an ongoing investigation. Obviously a broader famill' of rn o d e ls and t he ef f e c ts o f v a ri a h l e v i s c n s i tv n e e d to he
careful l y i nvesti gated and documented. S ome t ent ati ve concl usi ons based on the i ni ti al resul ts ar e: . fi ni teel ement model i ng of densi ty struct ur es can be used to i nvesti gate gravi tati onal tecton ic st r ess and the associ ated deformati ons, . a useful definition of gravitational tectonic stress i s " total stress mi nus the l i thostati c overb ur den, " o gravitational tectonic stress is the result of lateral (not vertical) density structures, . the pushfromtheridge, pullfromthetrench plate tectonic driving mechanism can be demonstrated, glavitational tectonic stress is consistent with normal faulting and earthquakes along plate spreadi ng centers, gravitational tectonic stress is consistent with the distribution of earthquakes within some Benioff zones. and . the magnitude of the calculated gravitational tectonic stress is comparable with the stress drop commonly associated with earthquakes in these environments. In some respects. these tectoni c model s are analogous to the groundwater flow models used in geohydrologic investigations. Both are necessarily simplifications of much more complex physical systems and both aie more adept at dismissing unrealistic concepts than they are at establishing unique solutions. The virtue of these computer model simulations is that they provide insighf into what is possible and suggest measurements or analyses which will better define the critical parameters. Questions, comments, and criticisms of our work are eagerly solicited, as are the efforts of others who wish to further develop these techniques. Copies of our computer programs are available from the lead author. A cknow l edgments The authors thank Dale Norem and Dayid Malone for their heipful reviews and comments. We specifically acknowledge the Illinois State University Honors Program for the financial support that made this study possi bl e. References Barrows, Larry, in review, The role of gravity in earthquake energetics: Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America. Barrows, Larry, and Langer, C.J., 1981,Gravitational potenti al as a source of earthquake energy: Tect onophysi cs, 76, p. 237255. v. B ol t, B .A ., 1982. Insi de the earth: W .H . Freem an. New Y ork, 191 p. C ox, A l l an (edi tor),1973,P l ate tectoni cs and geom agnet ic reversals: W.H. Freeman and Company.San Francisco. 702 p. D eJong, .A . and. S chol ten, . (edi tors), K R 1973,Gravit y and tectoni cs: John W i l ey and S ons,N ew Y ork. 502 p. Dennison, J.N'L,1976,Gravity tectonicremoval of the Blue Ridgeanticlinoriurnto form the Vallel'and Ridge Provi nce: Geol ogrcal oci etyof A meri ca B ul l eti n. v. 8?, p. S 1470t476
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Tectonic Stress and Earthquakes A FiniteElement Modeling Approach to Gravitational
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About the Authors Lany Barrows reeeived his PhD degree from the Colorado School of Mines in 1978. He worked as an environmental geophysicist until 1993 when he joined Illinois State University as an assistant professor of geolory and coordinator of a geohydrolory graduate progrqp:t. He cunently teaches physical geolory, exploration geophysics, environmental geology, and computer modeling of gfoundwater s;rstems. Kevin Paul was a sophomore physics student when he took physical geolory and began working on the finiteelementmodeling pr{ect as part of the I.S.U. Honors Program. He received hie BS degree in 1996 and is currently a graduate physics student at the University of Illinois where his academic focus is special relativity.
Food for Thought
inside nuclei atoms, universe locked the of the of Forallthetalkaboutthe menagerie particles is entirely and we directly almost through playof electrons photons, the experience generated whosestepsare laidout in oneof the supreme accomplishmentstwentiethcentury of a dance gravityand a or science, theorycalledquantum electrodynamics, QED.The theoryignores frontier, it is stunning how muchis stillencompassed withinits stopsshortof the nuclear but grasp. are electromagnetic We in world,existing the interseccreatures an electromagnetic at it . fightand electricity. . . In the worldwherewe find ourselves, is QED that tion between provides rulesof the game. the faith,and the searchfor orden GeorgeJohnson,1996, Firein the mind Scr'ence, p. A. NewYork,Alfred Knopf ,379 p. (from 132133) p. v. Educatiotr, 45, 1998, 23 Journalof Geoscience