The effect of the intermediate principal stress on fault formation and fault angle in siltstone

Bezalel Haimson*, John W. Rudnicki

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

102 Scopus citations


We conducted true triaxial compression tests on specimens prepared from two siltstone core sections, one above and one below the Chelungpu Fault, Taiwan. For different constant σ2 and σ3 magnitudes, the maximum principal stress (σ1) was raised until a post failure stage was reached, and a through-going fault had developed. Despite differences between the properties of the two cores, in all tests peak σ1 increased as σ2 was set at higher levels than σ3, in contrast to Mohr-Coulomb condition predictions. The fault-normal vector was aligned with the σ3 direction and made an angle (θ) with σ1 direction. The angle θ, which corresponds to fault dip in case of normal faulting, increased monotonically with σ2 for fixed σ3, a variation that is also inconsistent with Mohr-Coulomb theory. The results of shear band localization theory are used with fault angles observed for axisymmetric compression and deviatoric pure shear to infer properties of the inelastic constitutive behavior. These properties are significantly different for the two cores. Using them to predict θ for other deviatoric stress states yields good agreement with the observations for core II and acceptable agreement for core I. The results are used to predict the angle variation for constant mean normal stress (θ decreases as the deviatoric stress state varies from axisymmetric extension to axisymmetric compression) and at fixed deviatoric stress state (θ decreases monotonically with increasing mean normal stress).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1701-1711
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Structural Geology
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2010


  • Bifurcation
  • Fault angle
  • Faulting
  • Mohr-Coulomb
  • Shear localization
  • Siltstone
  • Strength criterion
  • True triaxial test

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geology


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