Articles | Volume 14, issue 4
Research article
05 Apr 2023
Research article |  | 05 Apr 2023

The influence of crustal strength on rift geometry and development – insights from 3D numerical modelling

Thomas B. Phillips, John B. Naliboff, Ken J. W. McCaffrey, Sophie Pan, Jeroen van Hunen, and Malte Froemchen

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Cited articles

Allibone, A. H. and Tulloch, A. J.: Geology of the plutonic basement rocks of Stewart Island, New Zealand, New Zeal. J Geol. Geop., 47, 233–256,, 2004 
Barrier, A., Nicol, A., Browne, G. H., and Bassett, K. N.: Late Cretaceous coeval multi-directional extension in South Zealandia: Implications for eastern Gondwana breakup, Mar. Petrol. Geol., 118, 104383,, 2020. 
Beniest, A., Willingshofer, E., Sokoutis, D., and Sassi, W.: Extending continental lithosphere with lateral strength variations: effects on deformation localization and margin geometries, Front. Earth Sci., 6, 148,, 2018. 
Brune, S., Corti, G., and Ranalli, G.: Controls of inherited lithospheric heterogeneity on rift linkage: Numerical and analog models of interaction between the Kenyan and Ethiopian rifts across the Turkana depression, Tectonics, 36, 1767–1786,, 2017. 
Campbell, H. J.: Biostratigraphic age review of New Zealand's Permian–Triassic central terranes, Geological Society, London, Memoirs, 49, 31-41,, 2019. 
Short summary
Continental crust comprises bodies of varying strength, formed through numerous tectonic events. When subject to extension, these areas produce distinct rift and fault systems. We use 3D models to examine how rifts form above strong and weak areas of crust. We find that faults become more developed in weak areas. Faults are initially stopped at the boundaries with stronger areas before eventually breaking through. We relate our model observations to rift systems globally.