A Continuum Meshfree Method for Sandbox-style Numerical Modeling of Accretionary and Doubly Vergent Wedges

Publication Date

Fall 10-26-2021


In this study we introduce and utilize GEOSPH, a Lagrangian particle-based continuum Smoothed Particle Hydrodynamics (SPH) code to simulate the deformation of geologic materials in sandbox-style experiments using an elastoplastic constitutive model. Due to the meshfree nature of SPH, our proposed framework is capable of handling the large deformations characteristic of sandbox-style experiments. SPH is also able to capture strain localization and discontinuities, allowing us to resolve faulting patterns emerging in the sandbox experiments. We successfully validate our SPH implementation against the benchmark experiments of Buiter and co-workers, and then apply SPH to understand the deformational processes occurring in doubly vergent orogens resultant from the S-point experimental setup and from finitely high wedge-like indenter backstops of different inclinations. We find that the topographic slope of the prowedge results from the competing processes of vertical uplift due to the indenter and forward thrusting, while the topographic slope of the retrowedge is a product of repeated shallow slope failure. Our findings show that SPH is a promising numerical method which should be added to the current palette of computational tools used by structural geologists for solving problems relating to tectonics and crustal deformation.


Journal of Structural Geology





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