07 Feb 2022
07 Feb 2022
Status: a revised version of this preprint was accepted for the journal SE.

Analogue modelling of basin inversion: a review and future perspectives

Frank Zwaan1, Guido Schreurs1, Susanne Buiter2, Oriol Ferrer3, Riccardo Reitano4, Michael Rudolf5,6, and Ernst Willingshofer7 Frank Zwaan et al.
  • 1University of Bern, Institute of Geological Sciences, Bern, Switzerland
  • 2RWTH Aachen University, Faculty of Georesources and Materials Engineering, Tectonics and Geodynamics, Aachen, Germany
  • 3Universitat de Barcelona, Facultat de Ciències de la Terra, Departament de Dinàmica de la Terra i de l'Oceà, Geomodels Research Institute, Barcelona, Spain
  • 4Università Degli Studi Roma Tre, Department of Geological Sciences, Rome, Italy
  • 5Helmholtz Centre Potsdam GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences, Potsdam, Germany
  • 6Technical University Darmstadt, Institute for Applied Geosciences - Engineering Geology, Darmstadt, Germany
  • 7Utrecht University, Department of Earth Sciences, Utrecht, The Netherlands

Abstract. Basin inversion involves the reversal of subsidence in a basin due to compressional tectonic forces, leading to uplift of the basin’s sedimentary infill. A thorough understanding of basin inversion is of great importance for scientific, societal and economic reasons. Analogue tectonic modelling forms a key part our efforts to improve our understanding of basin inversion processes, and researchers have conducted numerous studies on this topic. In this review paper we recap the advances in knowledge of basin inversion tectonics acquired through analogue modelling studies, providing an up-to-date summary of the state of analogue modelling of basin inversion. We describe the different definitions of basin inversion that are being applied by researchers, why basin inversion has been historically an important research topic, and what the general mechanics involved in basin inversion are. We subsequently treat the wide range of different experimental approaches used for basin inversion modelling, with attention to the various materials, set-ups and techniques used for monitoring and analysing the model results. Our new systematic overviews of generalized results reveal the diversity of model results, depending greatly on the chosen set-up, model layering and (oblique) kinematics of inversion, as well as 3D along-strike structural and kinematic variations in the system. We show how analogue modelling results are in good agreement with numerical models, and how these results help to better understand natural examples of basin inversion. In addition to reviewing the past efforts in the field of analogue modelling, we also shed light on future modelling challenges and identify a number of opportunities for follow-up research. These include the testing of force-boundary conditions, adding geological processes such as sedimentation, transport and erosion, applying state-of-the-art modelling and quantification techniques, and establishing best modelling practices. We also suggest expanding the scope of basin inversion modelling beyond the traditional upper crustal "North Sea style" of inversion, which may contribute to the on-going search for clean energy resources. It follows that basin inversion modelling can bring valuable new insights, providing a great incentive to continue our efforts in this field. We therefore hope that this review paper will form an inspiration for future analogue modelling studies of basin inversion.

Frank Zwaan et al.

Status: final response (author comments only)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on se-2022-8', Anonymous Referee #1, 25 Apr 2022
    • AC1: 'Reply on RC1', Frank Zwaan, 03 Jun 2022
  • RC2: 'Comment on se-2022-8', Pinto Luisa, 01 May 2022
    • AC2: 'Reply on RC2', Frank Zwaan, 03 Jun 2022

Frank Zwaan et al.

Frank Zwaan et al.


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Short summary
When a sedimentary basin is subjected to compressional tectonic forces after its formation, it may be inverted. A thorough understanding of such “basin inversion” is of great importance for scientific, societal and economic reasons, and analogue tectonic models form a key part of our efforts to study these processes. We review the advances in the field of basin inversion modelling, showing how the modelling results can be applied, and we identify promising venues for future research.