Fold and fabric relationships in temporally and spatially evolving slump systems: A multi-cell flow model

G. Ian Alsop*, Shmuel Marco

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Folds generated in ductile metamorphic terranes and within unlithified sediments affected by slumping are geometrically identical to one another, and distinguishing the origin of such folds in ancient lithified rocks is therefore challenging. Foliation is observed to lie broadly parallel to the axial planes of tectonic folds, whilst it is frequently regarded as absent in slump folds. The presence of foliation is therefore often considered as a reliable criterion for distinguishing tectonic folds from those created during slumping. To test this assertion, we have examined a series of well exposed slump folds within the late Pleistocene Lisan Formation of the Dead Sea Basin. These slumps contain a number of different foliation types, including an axial-planar grain-shape fabric and a crenulation cleavage formed via microfolding of bedding laminae. Folds also contain a spaced disjunctive foliation characterised by extensional displacements across shear fractures. This spaced foliation fans around recumbent fold hinges, with kinematics reversing across the axial plane indicating a flexural shear fold mechanism. Overall, the spaced foliation is penecontemporaneous with each individual slump where it occurs, although in detail it is pre, syn or post the local folds. The identification of foliations within undoubted slump folds indicates that the presence or absence of foliation is not in itself a robust criterion to distinguish tectonic from soft-sediment folds. Extensional shear fractures displaying a range of temporal relationships with slump folds suggests that traditional single-cell flow models, where extension is focussed at the head and contraction in the lower toe of the slump, are a gross simplification. We therefore propose a new multi-cell flow model involving coeval second-order flow cells that interact with neighbouring cells during translation of the slump.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)27-49
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Structural Geology
StatePublished - Jun 2014


FundersFunder number
Carnegie Trust
Israel Science Foundation1736/11


    • Dead Sea
    • Foliation
    • Mass Transport Complex
    • Slump folds


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