Fold-thrust structures: where have all the buckles gone?

Robert W. H. Butler* (Corresponding Author), Clare E. Bond, Mark A. Cooper, Hannah Watkins

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Citations (Scopus)
7 Downloads (Pure)


The margins to evolving orogenic belts experience near layer parallel contraction that can evolve into fold and thrust belts. Developing cross section scale understanding of these systems necessitates structural interpretation. However, over the past several decades a false distinction has arisen between some forms of so-called fault-related folding and buckle folding. We investigate the origins of this confusion and seek to develop unified approaches for interpreting fold and thrust belts that incorporate deformation arising both from the amplification of buckling instabilities and from localized shear failures (thrust faults). Discussions are illustrated using short case studies from the Bolivian Subandean chain (Incahuasi anticline), the Canadian Cordillera (Livingstone anticlinorium) and Subalpine chains of France and Switzerland. Only fault-bend folding is purely fault-related and other forms, such as fault propagation and detachment folds all involve components of buckling. Better integration of understanding of buckling processes, the geometries and structural evolutions that they generate, may help to understand how deformation is distributed within fold and thrust belts. It may also reduce the current biases engendered by adopting a narrow range of idealized geometries when constructing cross-sections and evaluating structural evolution in these systems.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)21-44
Number of pages14
JournalGeological Society Special Publications
Early online date20 Feb 2019
Publication statusPublished - 20 Feb 2019

Bibliographical note

Special publication title: Folding and Fracturing of Rocks: 50 Years of Research since the Seminal Text Book of J. G. Ramsay

We dedicate the paper to the memory of Martin Casey (1948-2008), who did much through good-humored argument to ensure that buckling ideas were not lost to what he called “the Ramping Club” (the thrust belt community). The Fold – Thrust Research Group has been funded by InterOil, OilSearch and Santos. We thank Paul Griffiths and anonymous referee for comments together with Hermann Lebit for scientific editing. The views expressed here of course remain those of the authors.


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