Extensional stresses in the Colombian Eastern Cordillera fold-and-thrust belt (northern Andes): insights from 2D finite element modeling



Deformation and stress characteristics in the upper crust of the fold-and-thrust belt in the Colombian Eastern
Cordillera were investigated by numerical analysis. The structural trend of Colombian Eastern Cordillera has
long been considered a possible example of a true contraction orogen. The issue of the convergent displacement
along an elastic structural body, which controls present-day deformation in this Cordillera is examined here.
Modeling results are presented in terms of three parameters: 1) distributions, orientations, and magnitudes of
principal stresses; 2) maximum shear stress (τmax) contour; and 3) proximity to failure of elements within faults.
Mohr-Coulomb failure criteria with bulk rock properties are applied to analyze the faults. The model shows
extensional stresses in the crust at shallow crustal levels (from surface to about 6 km) despite overall contraction,
and contraction at depth is confirmed. Measurement results indicate that, for homogeneous crustal thickening,
extensional stresses are concentrated in the Servita half-gaben and Bucaramanga fault systems, where the
vertical thrust faults and thickening processes are located. Our two-dimensional (2D) modeling results emphasize
that extensional stresses are still active along the vertical to sub-vertical fault system in the fold-and-thrust
belt of the Colombian Eastern Cordillera.


Finite element (FE) modeling; Elastic rock properties; Convergent displacement; Extensional stress field; Colombian Eastern Cordillera

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.1344/105.000001441


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            Facultat de Ciències de la Terra                       Geociències Barcelona                           Institut de Diagnosi Ambiental                    Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona           
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