Anticrack inclusion model for compaction bands in sandstone

Kurt R. Sternlof*, John W. Rudnicki, David D. Pollard

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

129 Scopus citations


Detailed observations of compaction bands exposed in the Aztec Sandstone of southeastern Nevada indicate that these thin, tabular, bounded features of localized porosity loss initiated at pervasive grain-scale flaws, which collapsed in response to compressive tectonic loading. From many of these Griffith-type flaws, an apparently self-sustaining progression of collapse propagated outward to form bands of compacted grains a few centimeters thick and tens of meters in planar extent. These compaction bands can be idealized as highly eccentric ellipsoidal bodies that have accommodated uniform uniaxial plastic strain parallel to their short dimension within a surrounding elastic material. They thus can be represented mechanically as contractile Eshelby inclusions, which generate near-tip compressive stress concentrations consistent with self-sustaining, in-plane propagation. The combination of extreme aspect ratio (∼10-4) and significant uniaxial plastic strain (∼10%) also justifies an approximation of the bands as anticracks: sharp boundaries across which a continuous distribution of closing mode displacement discontinuity has been accommodated. This anticrack interpretation of compaction bands is analogous to that of pressure solution surfaces, except that porosity loss takes the place of material dissolution. We find that displacement discontinuity boundary element modeling of compaction bands as anticracks within a two-dimensional linear elastic continuum can accurately represent the perturbed external stress fields they induce.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberB11403
Pages (from-to)1-16
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 4 2005
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Geophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)


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