3D mechanical stratigraphy of a deformed multi-layer: linking sedimentary architecture and strain partitioning

Adam Cawood* (Corresponding Author), Clare E Bond

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Citations (Scopus)
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Stratigraphic influence on structural style and strain distribution in deformed sedimentary sequences is well established, in models of 2D mechanical stratigraphy. In this study we attempt to refine existing models of stratigraphic-structure interaction by examining outcrop scale 3D variations in sedimentary architecture and the effects on subsequent deformation. At Monkstone Point, Pembrokeshire, SW Wales, digital mapping and virtual scanline data from a high resolution virtual outcrop have been combined with field observations, sedimentary logs and thin section analysis. Results show that significant variation in strain partitioning is controlled by changes, at a scale of tens of metres, in sedimentary architecture within Upper Carboniferous fluvio-deltaic deposits. Coupled vs uncoupled deformation of the sequence is defined by the composition and lateral continuity of mechanical units and unit interfaces. Where the sedimentary sequence is characterised by gradational changes in composition and grain size, we find that deformation structures are best characterized by patterns of distributed strain. In contrast, distinct compositional changes vertically and in laterally equivalent deposits results in highly partitioned deformation and strain. The mechanical stratigraphy of the study area is inherently 3D in nature, due to lateral and vertical compositional variability. Consideration should be given to 3D variations in mechanical stratigraphy, such as those outlined here, when predicting subsurface deformation in multi-layers.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)54-69
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Structural Geology
Early online date24 Nov 2017
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2018

Bibliographical note

This study was carried out as part of a University of Aberdeen provided PhD supported by The NERC Centre for Doctoral Training in Oil & Gas, (grant reference: NE/M00578X/1). Thanks to Yukitsugu Totake for field assistance and acquisition of images for photogrammetric virtual outcrop generation. Midland Valley Exploration is thanked for academic use of Move 2016 software. We gratefully acknowledge the detailed and constructive reviews by Adrian Pfiffner and Cara Burberry which greatly improved the manuscript.


  • 3D mechanical stratigraphy
  • strain partitioning
  • virtual outcrop
  • multi-layer


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