Normal-fault stress and displacement through finite-element analysis

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A. Megna
S. Barba
S. Santini


We compute displacement and stress due to a normal fault by means of two-dimensional plane-strain finite-element analysis. To do so, we apply a system of forces to the fault nodes and develop an iterative algorithm serving to determine the force magnitudes for any slip distribution. As a sample case, we compute the force magnitudes assuming uniform slip on a 10-km two-dimensional normal fault. The numerical model generates displacement and stress fields that compare well with the analytical solution. In fact, we found little difference in displacements (<5%), displacement orientation (<15°), and stress components (<35%, half of which due to slip tolerance). We analyze such misfit, and discuss how the error propagates from displacement to stress. Our scheme provides a convenient way to use the finite-elements direct method in a trial-and-error procedure to reproduce any smooth slip distribution.

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Megna A, Barba S, Santini S. Normal-fault stress and displacement through finite-element analysis. Ann. Geophys. [Internet]. 2005Dec.25 [cited 2021Oct.16];48(6). Available from:

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