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Computers & Geosciences 29 (2003) 795799

Short Note

An Excel spreadsheet for nite strain analysis using the Rf =f technique$

David M. Chew*
Department of Geology, Trinity College, Dublin 2, Ireland Received 24 May 2002; received in revised form 21 October 2002; accepted 10 November 2002

1. Introduction The Rf =f technique for strain analysis was rst described by Ramsay (1967) and rened by Dunnet (1969) and Lisle (1977). The Rf =f technique can potentially be used on any deformed suite of initially elliptical strain markers (e.g. conglomerates, oolites). The axial ratios Rf of typically between 50 and 100 strain markers and their respective long axes orientations f have to be recorded. The Rf =f technique assumes that the suite of elliptical strain markers did not possess a preferred initial orientation prior to deformation. As these markers are elliptical and have differing initial orientations, their deformed shapes cannot correspond to the strain ellipse. However, it is possible to calculate the pre-deformational axial ratio Ri and orientation y of each marker for a particular strain. The strain ellipse Rs can then be calculated by selecting the particular strain which yields the most random initial distribution of marker orientations (the fundamental starting assumption). The reader is encouraged to consult a comprehensive manual on the Rf =f technique (Lisle, 1985) for further details. One of the drawbacks of the Rf =f technique is that the strain calculations are relatively time-consuming to perform manually. Strain calculation is made signicantly easier by utilizing a computer-based approach (e.g. Peach and Lisle, 1979; Mulchrone and Meere, 2001). The program presented here employs a spreadsheet-based approach with the advantages of easy modication of the spreadsheet structure and the ability

to export and modify Rf =f diagrams on a variety of computer platforms (e.g. Fig. 1).

2. Spreadsheet structure and operation 2.1. Notes concerning the Excel implementation This implementation of the Rf =f technique uses the Microsoft Excelt spreadsheet. The strain calculation procedure employs macros and hence macros must be enabled (with the ensuing virus warnings) when opening the workbook Rfphi.xls. Rfphi.xls is provided as an Excel 5.0 workbook to ensure compatibility with older versions of Excel, but maybe saved in a newer format if required. The workbook (Rfphi.xls) consists of two worksheets (Enter data and Calculate Rs ) and two charts (Ln Rf vs. Phi and Rs vs. w2 ). Rf =f data (see Table 1 for nomenclature) is entered onto the worksheet (Enter data) and these data are plotted on the chart (Ln Rf vs. Phi), along with Ri and y curves for the calculated strain. The second worksheet (Calculate Rs ) calculates the best-t parameter w2 of the y-distribution test of Lisle (1977) over a user-specied strain range. The values of the best-t parameter over the strain range are displayed graphically on the second chart (Rs vs. w2 ). The detailed operation of each of these modules is discussed below. Further operating instructions are supplied in the accompanying help le (readme.doc). 2.2. Worksheet Enter data

$ Code on server at index.htm *Tel.: +353-1-608-1235; fax: +353-1-67111-99. E-mail address: (D.M. Chew).

The long and short axes and orientations 90ofo90 of up to 350 markers are entered on this worksheet. The axial ratio Rf of each strain marker is calculated, while sample numbers can be entered into the

0098-3004/03/$ - see front matter r 2003 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved. doi:10.1016/S0098-3004(03)00027-X

796 D.M. Chew / Computers & Geosciences 29 (2003) 795799


Ln Rf vs. Phi
q = -90



q = -45



Ri = 10 1.25

Vector mean of

q = 0


q = 45



Harmonic mean of Rf 1.5



1.75 2



Ri = 6
1.5 2 2.5 3 3.5

q = 90

Ln Rf
Fig. 1. Chart Ln Rf vs. Phi. Chart was exported into Adobe Illustrator where Ri curves and the 90 , 45 , 0 , 45 and 90 y curves were labelled.

Table 1 Rf =f nomenclature Rf f Ri y Rs Measured ellipticity of strain marker Angle between marker long axis and maximum extension direction Initial ellipticity of strain marker in undeformed state Initial angle between the undeformed marker long axis and the maximum extension direction Axial ratio of the strain ellipse

orientation to the strain markers is incorrect. Critical values for the test are listed in Lisle (1985). 2.3. Chart Ln Rf vs. Phi This chart plots ln Rf against f for each strain marker (Fig. 1). The x-axis scale Rf is logarithmic. The f data are shifted along the y axis such that the vector mean of the f data is equal to 0. Once the strain Rs has been determined (using the worksheet Calculate Rs ), Ri and y curves for this calculated strain are displayed. Eight Ri curves are plotted, with values of 1.25, 1.5, 1.75, 2, 2.5, 3, 4 and 6, respectively (Fig. 1), while the y curves range from 90 to 90 in increments of 9 (Fig. 1). Lisle (1985) lists several equations relating the ve variables involved in Rf =f calculations (Rs ; Rf ; Ri ; f and y). Ri curves are calculated using Eq. (A1.3) of Lisle (1985): cosh 2ei cosh 2ef cosh 2es cos 2f sinh 2ef sinh 2es ; 2 where ei 1 ln Ri ; etc. As Ri and Rs are known, the Ri 2 curve is calculated by looping through a range of values for Rf and calculating the corresponding value for f:

leftmost column. The vector mean and harmonic mean of the strain markers are displayed in the rightmost box (Fig. 2). The spreadsheet performs the index of symmetry test of Lisle (1985) by dividing the Rf =f plot into four quadrants (dened by the vector mean and harmonic mean of the strain markers). The index of symmetry is calculated as follows: ISYM 1 jnA nB j jnC nD j=N; 1

where nA denotes the number of strain markers in quadrant A, etc., and N equals the total number of markers. High values of ISYM suggest the data are symmetrical, while low values suggest that the data are markedly asymmetric and hence the assumption of no preferred initial

D.M. Chew / Computers & Geosciences 29 (2003) 795799 797

Fig. 2. Worksheet Enter data, where Rf =f data is input.

The y curves are calculated using the following equation of Lisle (1977): " Rf tan 2yR2 tan2 f 2Rs tan f s tan 2y1 R2 tan2 f 2Rs tan f s #1=2 3

As y and Rs are known, the y curve is calculated by looping through a range of values for f and calculating the corresponding values for Rf : The Rf =f chart is easily exported into computer drafting programs (e.g. Adobe Illustrator, Canvas) by copying the chart and pasting it into the relevant package. 2.4. Worksheet calculate Rs This worksheet calculates the best-t parameter w2 (e.g. Borradaile, 1976) for the y-distribution test of Lisle (1977) over a range of user-specied strains. Low values for w2 indicate that the initial distribution of marker orientations y is uniform (random). The strain ellipse Rs is then calculated by selecting the particular strain which yields the most random initial distribution of marker orientations. Critical values for the test are given in Lisle (1985).

The user inputs an initial strain, the number of steps (up to a maximum of 75) and a step increment into the box on the left of the worksheet (Fig. 3). Clicking the Calculate button on the right of the worksheet initiates a Visual BASIC macro which calculates the best-t parameter over the specied strain range. The results are displayed graphically on the chart Rs vs. w2 (Fig. 4). The strain value corresponding to the minimum value for w2 is automatically entered into the rightmost box (Rs value). Ri and y curves are then created on the chart Ln Rf vs. Phi for this particular strain ratio. 2.5. Chart Rs vs. w2 This chart displays how the best-t parameter w2 varies with strain Rs over the user-specied strain range. The harmonic mean of the Rf data is also displayed.

3. Spreadsheet verication Firstly, the sample dataset (s1a.rfp) of Mulchrone and Meere (2001) was entered into the spreadsheet, and

798 D.M. Chew / Computers & Geosciences 29 (2003) 795799

Fig. 3. Worksheet Calculate Rs . Clicking on the Calculate button initiates a macro which calculates the best-t parameter w2 over the specied strain range.


Rs vs. c2


Harmonic mean of Rf






Rs = 1.47 from minimum value for c

0 1 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4







Fig. 4. Chart Rs vs. w2 illustrating how the best-t parameter w2 of y-distribution test varies with strain Rs :

D.M. Chew / Computers & Geosciences 29 (2003) 795799 Table 2 Calculated strains from a synthetically strained suite of elliptical markers Strain used to generate data Strains calculated using spreadsheet 1.25 1.5 1.75 2 3 4 5 10 15 20 Average Standard deviation 0.029 0.019 0.034 0.036 0.090 0.061 0.056 0.169 0.178 0.266 799

1.23 1.24 1.22 1.22 1.24 1.25 1.29 1.28 1.3 1.25 1.252 1.5 1.54 1.48 1.48 1.49 1.5 1.49 1.5 1.52 1.51 1.501 1.67 1.72 1.74 1.78 1.78 1.76 1.78 1.75 1.76 1.75 1.749 2.02 1.99 1.95 2.02 2.04 1.94 1.96 2.04 1.99 1.99 1.994 3.06 3.06 2.94 3.18 3.12 2.99 2.91 2.92 3.05 3.09 3.032 4 4.01 4.06 4.07 3.98 4.08 4.02 3.92 3.91 3.94 3.999 5.01 5.05 5.03 5.01 5.06 5.06 4.95 5.11 5.12 5.13 5.053 9.81 9.74 9.92 10.24 10.12 10 9.97 10.22 10.01 10.17 10.02 14.85 14.64 14.92 15.09 14.96 14.94 15.2 14.83 15.19 15.12 14.97 20.23 20.27 19.87 20.38 19.86 20.35 19.73 20.09 20.23 20.57 20.16

yielded a strain of 2.11 comparing favourably with the published value of 2.1 (Mulchrone and Meere, 2001). Secondly, a set of synthetically deformed strain markers was generated using a separate spreadsheet (synthetic.xls), using the equations listed in Lisle (1985). The markers have a random initial ellipticity, Ri, (bounded by a specied maximum), and a random initial orientation, y. Ten synthetic datasets for a specied strain were fed into the Rfphi.xls workbook, and the procedure repeated for a range of strains. The difference between the calculated strain and the strain used to generate the synthetic data is minimal (Table 2). Finally, raw Rf =f data from a previously published source (Johnston, 1993) was entered into the spreadsheet. The published strain estimates of 1.5 for both samples compare favourably with the spreadsheetcalculated strains of 1.53 and 1.48.

the Rf =f plot and the initial orientation of the strain markers. Resultant Rf =f diagrams are easily exported into a variety of computer drawing packages.

Borradaile, G.J., 1976. A strain study of a granite-gneiss transition and accompanying schistosity formation in the Betic orogenic zone, SE Spain. Journal of the Geological Society, London 134, 417428. Dunnet, D., 1969. A technique of nite strain analysis using elliptical particles. Tectonophysics 7, 117136. Johnston, J.D., 1993. Ice wedge clasts in the Dalradian of south Donegalevidence for subaerial exposure of the boulder bed. Irish Journal of Earth Sciences 12, 1326. Lisle, R.J., 1977. Clastic grain shape and orientation in relation to cleavage from the Aberystwyth Grits, Wales. Tectonophysics 39, 381385. Lisle, R.J., 1985. Geological Strain Analysis: A Manual for the Rf/f Technique. Pergamon Press, Oxford, 99pp. Mulchrone, K.F., Meere, P.A., 2001. A Windows program for the analysis of tectonic strain using deformed elliptical markers. Computers & Geosciences 27 (10), 12511255. Peach, C.J., Lisle, R.J., 1979. A Fortran IV program for the analysis of tectonic strain using deformed elliptical markers. Computers & Geosciences 5 (34), 325334. Ramsay, J.G., 1967. Folding and Fracturing of Rocks. McGraw-Hill, New York, 531pp.

4. Discussion and suggestions to users A spreadsheet-based approach to Rf =f strain analysis signicantly reduces the time-consuming calculations involved in estimating strain ratios, and can be used on any computer platform that supports Excel. The user can at any stage check the strain ratio along with statistical parameters which describe the symmetry of