We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. By continuing to browse this repository, you give consent for essential cookies to be used. You can read more about our Privacy and Cookie Policy.

Durham Research Online
You are in:

The structural evolution of pull-apart basins in response to changes in plate motion.

Farangitakis, G.P and McCaffrey, K.J.W. and Willingshofer, E. and Allen, M.B. and Kalnins, L.M.K. and van Hunen, J. and Persaud, P. and Sokoutis, D. (2021) 'The structural evolution of pull-apart basins in response to changes in plate motion.', Basin research., 33 (2). pp. 1603-1625.


Pull‐apart basins are structural features linked to the interactions between strike‐slip and extensional tectonics. Their morphology and structural evolution are determined by factors such as extension rate, the basin length/width ratio, and changes in extension direction. In this work, we investigate the effect of a change in the plate motion direction on a pull‐apart basin's structure, using analogue modelling experiments with a two‐layer ductile‐brittle configuration to simulate continental crust rheology. We initially impose orthogonal extension on an interconnected rift and strike‐slip system to drive pull‐apart development. Subsequently, we rotate the relative motion vector, imposing transtensional deformation and continuing with this new relative motion vector to the end of the experiment. To compare with natural examples, we analyse the model using seismic interpretation software, generating 3D fault structure and sedimentary thickness interpretations. Results show that the change in the direction of plate motion produces map‐view sigmoidal oblique slip faults that become normal‐slip when deformation adjusts to the new plate motion vector. Furthermore, sediment distribution is strongly influenced by the relative plate rotation, changing the locus of deposition inside the basin at each model stage. Finally, we compare our observations to seismic reflection images, sedimentary package thicknesses and fault interpretations from the Northern Gulf of California and find good agreement between model and nature. Similar fault arrays occur in the Bohai Basin in northern China, which suggests a rotational component in its evolution. More broadly, such similar structures could indicate a role for oblique extension and fault rotation in any pull‐apart basin.

Item Type:Article
Full text:Publisher-imposed embargo
(AM) Accepted Manuscript
File format - PDF
Full text:(VoR) Version of Record
Available under License - Creative Commons Attribution 4.0.
Download PDF
Publisher Web site:
Publisher statement:© 2020 The Authors. Basin Research published by International Association of Sedimentologists and European Association of Geoscientists and Engineers and John Wiley & Sons Ltd This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Date accepted:12 November 2020
Date deposited:20 November 2020
Date of first online publication:20 January 2021
Date first made open access:31 March 2021

Save or Share this output

Look up in GoogleScholar