Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/se-2020-199
https://doi.org/10.5194/se-2020-199

  14 Dec 2020

14 Dec 2020

Review status: a revised version of this preprint is currently under review for the journal SE.

3D crustal stress state of Western Central Europe according to a data-calibrated geomechanical model – first results

Steffen Ahlers1, Andreas Henk1, Tobias Hergert1, Karsten Reiter1, Birgit Müller2, Luisa Röckel2, Oliver Heidbach3, Sophia Morawietz3, Magdalena Scheck-Wenderoth3, and Denis Anikiev3 Steffen Ahlers et al.
  • 1Institut für Angewandte Geowissenschaften, TU Darmstadt, 64287 Darmstadt, Germany
  • 2Institut für Angewandte Geowissenschaften, KIT, 76131 Karlsruhe, Germany
  • 3Deutsches GeoForschungsZentrum (GFZ), 14473 Potsdam, Germany

Abstract. The contemporary stress state in the upper crust is of great interest for geotechnical applications and basic research likewise. However, our knowledge of the crustal stress field from the data perspective is limited. For Western Central Europe basically two datasets are available: Orientations of the maximum horizontal stress (SHmax) and the stress regime as part of the World Stress Map (WSM) database (Heidbach et al., 2018) as well as a complementary compilation of stress magnitude data of Germany and adjacent regions (Morawietz et al., 2020). However, these datasets only provide pointwise, incomplete and heterogeneous information of the 3D stress tensor. Here, we present a geomechanical-numerical model that provides a continuous description of the contemporary 3D crustal stress state on a regional scale for Western Central Europe. The model covers an area of about 1000 × 1250 km2 and extends to a depth of 100 km containing seven lithostratigraphic units, with specific material properties (density and elastic rock properties) and laterally varying thicknesses: A sedimentary unit, four different units of the upper crust, the lower crust and the lithospheric mantle. The model is calibrated by the two datasets to achieve a best-fit regarding the SHmax orientations and the minimum horizontal stress magnitudes (Shmin). The modelled orientations of SHmax are almost entirely within the uncertainties of the WSM data used and the Shmin magnitudes fit to various datasets well. Only the SHmax magnitudes show locally significant deviations, primarily indicating too low values in the lower part of the model. The model is open for further refinements regarding model geometry, e.g., additional layers with laterally varying material properties, and incorporation of future stress measurements. In addition, it can provide the initial stress state for local geomechanical models with a higher resolution.

Steffen Ahlers et al.

 
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Steffen Ahlers et al.

Steffen Ahlers et al.

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Short summary
Knowledge about the stress state in the upper crust is of great importance for many economic and scientific questions. However, our knowledge is limited since available datasets only provide pointwise, incomplete and heterogeneous information. We present the first 3D geomechanical model that provides a continuous description of the contemporary crustal stress state for Western Central Europe. The model is calibrated by the orientation of the maximum horizontal stress and stress magnitudes.