First attempt to model numerically seismically-induced soft-sediment deformation structures – a comparison with field examples

Małgorzata Bronikowska, Malgorzata Pisarska-Jamrozy, Tom van Loon


No numerical model has thus far addressed seismites, even though seismites are frequently used for the reconstruction of seismic events in the geological past. This is the more remarkable since the boundary conditions which have to be fulfilled for the development of seismites have also been estimated only empirically. The present contribution is a first attempt to model numerically the soft-sediment deformation structures caused by the passage of S-waves through near-surface sedimentary layers. The simulations are based on the so-called pressure tube model and the iSALE2D program. We modelled a seismic S-wave with six different vertical velocities, ranging from 1.6 to 2.6 m · s-1, passing through sediments with different densities and porosities in a sedimentary succession from the surface down to a depth of 10 m. The modelled soft-sediment deformation structures (load casts, flame structures, injection structures and sedimentary volcanoes) show similar geometries and sizes as those known from laboratory experiments and field studies. The geometry, size and type of these structures depend on the sediment properties and on the initial pressure used as a trigger mechanism, rather than on S-wave velocity. In contrast, the depth of the seismites appears to depend strongly on the S-wave velocity.


numerical modelling, seismic waves, wave propagation, seismites, soft-sediment deformation structures, load casts, injection structures

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