TS
Tectonics and Structural Geology

Must read papers

TS Must Read – Ramsay (1980): Shear zone geometry: a review

TS Must Read – Ramsay (1980): Shear zone geometry: a review

Ramsay’s 1980 important contribution is a practical and theoretical handbook about shear zones, where the reader can find a detailed classification of shear zones, their description, and mathematical explanation. A definition of the concept of shear zones opens the article, followed by the shear zones classification into three types, namely brittle (e.g., Fig. 1a), brittle-ductile (e.g., Fig ...[Read More]

TS Must-Read – Brace and Kohlstedt (1980): Limits on Lithospheric Stress Imposed by Laboratory Experiments

TS Must-Read – Brace and Kohlstedt (1980): Limits on Lithospheric Stress Imposed by Laboratory Experiments

In 1980 Brace and Kohlstedt published a short paper that constrains the strength of continental lithosphere by extrapolating laboratory measurements of rock strength to geological conditions. Their approach follows earlier work by Goetze and Evans (1979) and relies on two key considerations. First, the brittle strength is given by the frictional strength of rocks following Byerlee’s law (Bye ...[Read More]

TS Must Read – Mckenzie (1978) On the development of Sedimentary basins

TS Must Read – Mckenzie (1978) On the development of Sedimentary basins

Continental extension strongly affects the topography of continents by shaping elongated rift valleys, referred to as rift basins in the geological record. A strong implication of the formation of these basins is a two-step subsidence history: an initial rapid subsidence during extension, and a second, slower subsidence once active extension has ceased. Although this observation was made already l ...[Read More]

TS Must-Read – Sibson (1977): Fault Rocks and Fault Mechanism

TS Must-Read – Sibson (1977): Fault Rocks and Fault Mechanism

The paper “Fault Rocks and Fault Mechanisms” by R. H. Sibson (1977), was one of the first studies that established major connections between the rocks that form in faults, and their conditions and mechanics during formation at crustal scale. Concretely, Sibson (1977) established: 1.) links among the textures and lithologies that develop along fault zones (fault rocks), 2.) the rheological and crus ...[Read More]

TS Must-Read – Riba (1976) Syntectonic unconformities of the Alto Cardener, Spanish Pyrenees: a genetic interpretation

TS Must-Read – Riba (1976) Syntectonic unconformities of the Alto Cardener, Spanish Pyrenees: a genetic interpretation

In 1976 Oriol Riba published his paper on “Syntectonic unconformities of the Alto Cardener, Spanish Pyrenees: a genetic interpretation”, and despite appearing as a niche topic at first glance, it was voted as one of the papers in our Must-Read series. A major reason for that is that the paper presents a general model for syntectonic unconformities  – an unconformity which illustrates both se ...[Read More]

TS Must-Read – Dewey and Bird (1970): Mountain belts and the new global tectonics

TS Must-Read – Dewey and Bird (1970): Mountain belts and the new global tectonics

Long after the first attempts made by Wegener (1915)⁠, the theory of plate tectonics was progressively accepted by the Earth sciences community in the thrilling ‘60s thanks to observations from mid-ocean ridges (see TS-must-read blogpost of September 2, 2020; Dietz, 1961; Heezen and Tharp, 1965, Hess, 1962; Vine and Matthews, 1963)⁠. The question is then, what goes on at convergent boundaries, whe ...[Read More]

TS Must-read – Morgan (1968): Rises, Trenches, Great Faults, and Crustal Blocks

TS Must-read – Morgan (1968): Rises, Trenches, Great Faults, and Crustal Blocks

In his 1968 paper “Rises, Trenches, Great Faults, and Crustal Blocks”, Jason Morgan added the missing pieces of the plate tectonics: the representation of plates’ motion in terms of spherical surface, and plate rigidity. In the very first lines of the paper he describes his contribution as an “extension of the transform fault concept [of Wilson, 1965; see the TS-must-read blogpost of October 15, 2 ...[Read More]

TS Must-Read – Wilson (1966): Did the Atlantic close and then re-open?

TS Must-Read – Wilson (1966): Did the Atlantic close and then re-open?

J.T. Wilson published “Did the Atlantic close and reopen?” in 1966, giving birth to the so called “Wilson Cycle”. The article is a key steppingstone for the theory of plate tectonics, and it is a must-read paper not only in tectonics studies but also in paleontology and stratigraphy. The questions raised can be generally abridged in two: “Why regions with similar fauna can be very far from each ot ...[Read More]

TS Must-Read – Mckenzie and Parker (1967): The North Pacific: an example of tectonics on a sphere

TS Must-Read  – Mckenzie and Parker (1967): The North Pacific: an example of tectonics on a sphere

The paper describes how large, rigid, aseismic regions can be defined with Euler’s theorem, which describes the geometry of motion on a sphere, i.e. the Earth’s surface. Points on these large and rigid blocks move in relation to other blocks describing small circles set by their rotation pole. The paper describes this as “paving stone theory”, where tectonic plates are “paving stones”, and success ...[Read More]

TS Must-Read – Wilson (1965): A New Class of Faults and their Bearing on Continental Drift

TS Must-Read  – Wilson (1965): A New Class of Faults and their Bearing on Continental Drift

In 1965, JT Wilson published “A New Class of Faults and their Bearing on Continental Drift” (https://doi.org/10.1038/207343a0). This is one of the papers that led to a paradigm shift in Earth Sciences and would become one of the bases of plate tectonics. The concept of the transform fault, introduced in this paper in a very smart way, is fundamental in tectonics textbooks nowadays. Indeed many of ...[Read More]