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J. S. TCHALENKO Imperial College of Science and Technology, London S.W.7.

, England

Similarities between Shear

Zones of Different Magnitudes
An examination is made of the formation and
development of shear zone structures on (1) the
microscopic scale in the shear box test, (2) an
intermediate scale in the Riedel experiment, and
(3) the regional scale in the earthquake fault. On
the basis of the resistance to shear, three structural
stages are chosen for detailed study: the peak
structure occurring at peak shearing resistance, the
post-peak structure occurring after peak shearing

resistance, and the residual structure occurring at

residual shearing resistance. Most of the similarities
in structure between the different scales at each of
these stages are interpreted in terms of the mechanical properties of the material, the Coulomb failure
criterion, and the kinematic restraints inherent in
the type of deformation. Other similarities which
are not as yet understood are described and suggested as topics for future research.


Riedel (1929)1. The en echelon shears and their

conjugates are commonly referred to as "Riedel
shears" (or "Riedels") and "conjugate Riedel
shears" (or "conjugate Riedels") (for example,
Hills, 1963). They are denoted by R and R'',
respectively, in Figure 1. The width of the
shear zone and the length of each individual
shear in the experiment may vary from a few
millimeters to a few centimeters, the exact
dimensions depending on the properties of the
material used and on the thickness of the slab.
Riedel shears have also been observed on a
smaller scale in clay samples subjected to direct
shear in the shear box. The inner dimensions of
the conventional apparatus are 6 x 6 x 4 cm,
and the width of the shear zone and the length
of individual shears vary in this case from a
few microns to a few millimeters. Tests by
Hvorslev (1937) were the first to reveal the
en echelon structure, and Morgenstern and
Tchalenko (1967a) observed that this structure
prevailed on all scales down to the magnification limit of the optical microscope. Microscopic Riedel shears were also found in the failure
zones of landslides in clays (Morgenstern and

Most soils and rocks, when deformed in

direct shear, develop narrow shear zones within
which the major displacements take place. Depending on the scale of the deformation and
on the amount of material involved, these
shear zones may vary in size by many orders of
magnitude, ranging from the microscopic deformation bands in crystal aggregates to the
regional tectonic faults in the earth's crust. In
general, a shear zone at a particular scale is
formed by a system of "shears" on a lower
scale. The pattern of these shears is referred to
here as the "shear zone structure."
Similarities between shear zones of different
scales have been recognized since the earliest
days of structural geology and used in model
studies of tectonic processes. One of the models
most frequently cited in this connection is the
Riedel experiment. This consists of a slab of
"plastic" material, placed horizontally over
two adjoining boards, one board being then
slowly displaced in a horizontal sliding motion
past the other. When, as is often the case, the
material used is a cky paste, the slab usually
measures a few millimeters to a few centimeters
in thickness, and from one to several decimeters
in length. The characteristic en echelon shears
formed at an angle to the board's interface
during the early stages of the deformation were
first investigated in detail by Cloos (1928) and

Fujiwhara (1924, 1925) performed similar experiments, but does not describe the details of the shear zone
structure. Path's model (Path, 1920) is also of the same
type, even though probably without boards, but the
structures illustrated are mainly tension gashes. See also
Brown (1928) for experiments on materials other than

Geological Society of America Bulletin, v. 81, p. 1625-1640, 12 figs., June 1970




^general direction of movement

Figure 1. Diagram of the Riedel experiment. (R)
Riedel shear. (R') conjugate Riedel shear. (IV) width of
shear zone.
Tchalenko, 1967b), and their similarity with
the shear box structures was shown to reflect
a similarity in the deformation mechanism
(Tchalenko, 1968).
On a much krger scale, the en echelon
arrangement of fractures in shear zones produced by strike-slip ground movements associated with earthquakes is fairly well documented in the literature on earthquake effects.
In this case, movements along faults situated
in the bedrock deform the sedimentary overburden or weathered rock and cause fracturing
at the ground surface. The shear features are of
the order of meters and hundreds of meters in
length. The movements are known with much
less precision than on the smaller scales, but
the similarity of the structures with the Riedel
and shear box cases suggests, at least for the

simpler faults, a similar deformation mechanism

(Tchalenko and Ambraseys, 1970).
This paper examines the extent of the
structural similarity between shear zones of
different magnitudes. Some aspects of this
similarity are explained in terms of the
mechanical properties of the materials involved.
Other aspects, however, remain as yet unexplained, and they are presented here as
observations. As particular structural features
are more pronounced at some magnifications
than at others, the simultaneous study of
shear zones on more than one scale leads to a
better understanding of the general deformation mechanism.


The method of study and the most important
results obtained at each scale are summarized
in this section. For further details of the experimental procedure, the reader is referred to
the previous work mentioned in the text.
Riedel Experiment
In the Riedel experiment, briefly described
in the Introduction, the clay adheres sufficiently to the boards to insure that the movement
is transmitted to the skb (Fig. 2). The sample
is unconfined at its upper surface, but the
capillary forces acting on the free surface give
rise to an equivalent ambient pressure throughout the specimen. The adjunction of a proving
ring to one of the boards enables the variation
of the lateral force T to be measured (Tchalenko, 1967). The force-displacement curve (Fig.
3 A) shows a rapid increase of shearing resistance
to a maximum value, at which point the first
shears appear, then a decrease until a stable

Figure 2. Deformation in the shear box, Riedel experiment and earthquake fault. (N) normal effective force. (T)
horizontal shear force. (F) tectonic fault in bedrock.


M. /.

Figure 3. Riedel experiment results on kaolin. (A)
force-displacement curve. (B) proportion of total movement taken up by shears. Water content = 56 percent
(D) total (board) movement. (T) horizontal shear force.
(a,b,c,d,e,} stages in the deformation, also shown in
Figure 4.
value is reached at large displacements when
the shear zone is fully formed. By analogy
with the stress-displacement behavior which
will be demonstrated for the shear box, the
maximum shearing resistance is referred to as
the "peak shear strength," and the final stable
resistance as the "residual shear strength."
The appearance and evolution of the shear
zone structure may be followed visually or
photographically. By observing the development of individual shears and the distortion of
markers inscribed on the clay surface, the
approximate proportion of the board movement (or total displacement, D) taken up by
movement on individual shears (d) can be
measured. Figure 3B shows the rapid increase
of movement on shears after peak shear
strength, a characteristic feature of all clays.
Figure 4 shows the sequence of structures


observed in the experiment, with kaolin mentioned in connection with Figure 3. The
structures, drawn on the basis of photographs
taken during the experiment, are shown at
five stages of deformation. Displacements
measured on the shears are plotted in the form
of histograms indicating the cumulative
amounts of displacement d,- having taken place
along shears of different inclinations ;'. The
histograms were constructed by adding the
offsets incurred by each marker, and by noting
the average inclination of the shears responsible
for each offset. Stages a to e in the outline
which follows, are common to Figures 3 and 4.
Pre-Peak Strength Deformation. (Not
shown in Fig. 4). The initial movement of the
boards causes a homogeneous straining in the
region of the future shear zone. Circles inscribed on the clay slab are transformed into
ellipses, indicating that the deformation is of
the simple shear type. No shears are discernible
during this stage.
Stage a, Peak Structure. The first shears,
the Riedels, appear just before peak shear
strength is reached, at an average inclination
of 12 + 1. At peak strength, the Riedels
have been bodily rotated to a maximum inclination of about 16. During this stage, the
proportion of total board displacement accommodated by individual shears increases rapidly
from 0 to around 50 percent.
Stage b, Post-Peak Structure. Some Riedels
are extended into a more horizontal direction,
and a few new shears appear at angles of about
8. The proportion of total displacement
accommodated by shears attains about 75
Stage c, Post-Peak Structure. New shears,
referred to as the "P shears," are formed at an
average inclination of -10, that is, approximately symmetrical to the Riedels. They
interconnect pairs of Riedels, at times forming
characteristic "bull nose" structures (Skempton, 1966). More than half of the shears are
now inclined at 4, and nearly all the total
movement at this stage is taken up by displacements along shears. This stage is illustrated
in Figure 7B.
Stage d, Pre-Residual Structure. The first
continuous horizontal shears, the "principal
displacement shears," are formed, isolating
elongated lenses of essentially passive material
between them. Most of the shears are inclined
at about 0 to 4.
Stage e, Residual Structure. Nearly all displacements take place along a single principal



0 4 8 12 16 i

0 4 8 12 16' i


0 4 6 1 2 18' i


0 4 Q 12 15'

. 12{degrees)
Figure 4. Sequence of structures in the Riedel experiment. (D) total (board) movement. (*') inclination of shear in
degrees with respect to general direction of movement. (SA) cumulative amount of displacements on shears inclined at/at each stage of movement. (a,b,c,d,e,) stages in the deformation, also shown in Figure 3. For stager, see
Figure 7B.
displacement shear superimposed on the interface between the two boards. The shearing
resistance is stable, and at its residual value.
When kaolin or other clays are used at lower
water contents than in the experiment described above, a second family of shears is observed during stage a. These are the conjugate
Riedels, inclined at 78 + 1 for kaolin, and
appearing simultaneously with, or just before,
the Riedels. Due to the large angle they make
with the general direction of movement, the
conjugate Riedels soon become passive and distorted into an S shape (Fig. 5). The general
characteristics of stages a to e are however, not
modified by the presence of the conjugate
Shear Box Test
In the shear box apparatus, the sample is
confined between rigid sides and it can thus be
tested under larger ambient stresses (Fig. 2).
The test is performed by immobilizing the
upper half of the box and displacing the lower

half horizontally at a constant rate. The tests

described here are performed under drained
conditions at a rate of 5 x 10~6 cm/sec. The
normal effective force N, is maintained constant throughout each test, and the horizontal
shear force T is measured; the normal effective
stress <7n' and shear stress r are then computed
for each stage of the test. The stress-displacement curves and the Mohr failure envelopes
for two tests of the same kaolin as used in the
Riedel experiments are given in Figure 6. For
each normal effective stress, the shear stress increases rapidly at first to the peak shear
strength, then decreases gradually to the
residual shear strength (Fig. 6A). The peak
and the residual angles of shearing resistance,
<t>' and <t>r, are obtained from the slopes of the
corresponding Mohr envelopes (Fig. 6B).
The structures formed in the shear box may
be studied by interrupting tests on initially
identical samples at different points of the
stress-displacement curve, and by preparing
thin sections of the entire sample (Morgenstern



Figure 5. Detail of Riedel experiment structure. Note inhomogeneous strain around a Riedel shear (R), and
distortion of conjugate Riedel shears (R'). Thick vertical lines arc markers inscribed on the slab surface prior to
and Tchalenko, 1967a). The increase in particle
parallelism occurring in the shears enables them
to be distinguished, in polarized light, from the
surrounding material. Structural observations
are carried out on two different scales: the entire
thin section is viewed directly or at a small
magnification, and a petrographic microscope
is used to examine details at magnifications of
up to X500.
The sequence of structures observed in the
shear box lest, both on the scale of the entire
sample and on the microscopic scale, is essentially the same as the one outlined for the Riedel
experiment (see Morgenstern and Tchalenko,
1967a, Figs. 5 and 8). Figure 8 A shows a
longitudinal thin section of a sample which has
nearly attained residual shear strength. Both
Ricdels and conjugate Ricdcls which appeared
at peak shear strength can be seen, as well as
some interconnecting P shears oriented approximately symmetrically to the Ricdels with
respect to the general direction oi movement.
The sample shown is at a stage corresponding to
stage d of the Riedel experiment when the
horizontal principal displacement shears appeared across the whole clay slab.
On a smaller scale, some of the individual
shears described above undergo a similar development which is illustrated in Figure 8B for
one of the Riedel shears. Each substructure is

typically less than 10 microns wide and formed

of strongly parallel particles lying on an average
in the general direction of the substructure. An
example of such a microscopic shear zone will be
described in greater detail in a later section.
Earthquake Fault
Little is known about how ground surface
deformations relate to bedrock movements at
depth. For the rectilinear segments of the major
strike-slip faults, the type of deformation shown
in Figure 2 is generally postulated. In these
segments it is often found that fracturing associated with earthquakes occurs along traces of
pre-existing faults, suggesting that surface
fractures are caused by the slipping of presheared blocks of bedrock material.
With earthquake faults it is not possible to
follow the structural evolution continuously,
as in the Riedel experiment, or even at intermittent stages, as in the shear box test. With
the exception of a few rare cases where displacement measurements were carried out immediately after an earthquake (Wallace and Roth,
1967; Smith and Wyss, 1968), the usual data
is pertinent to a structure as observed some
considerable time after the mam shock, that is,
when most of the induced movement has already taken place. Even in these cases, however,
detailed mapping may reveal segments having



and some P structures could be recognized.
Conjugate Riedels were also sometimes found.
The reconstructed structural evolution followed
a pattern basically similar to the one observed
in the Riedel experiment and shear box test
(Tchalenko and Ambraseys, 1970).


12 )mm

Figure 6. Shear box tests results on kaolin. (A)
stress-displacement curves. (B) Mohr envelopes. <rn'
normal effective stress, (r) shear stress. (D) total displacement. ($') peak angle of shearing resistance (0r)
residual angle of shearing resistance. (The stress-displacement curves are interrupted to show that the sense
of movement has been reversed ; see footnote 6) .
undergone different amounts of relative displacements, and under favorable conditions, a
time sequence and stages of a structural
evolution become evident. Such is the case for
the fractures associated with the Dasht-e Bayaz
earthquake of 1968, from which most of the
examples quoted in this paper are taken. Surface ground movements associated with this
earthquake were essentially strike-slip, and
over-all vertical displacements were negligible
(Ambraseys and Tchalenko, 1969). The ground
features, in the form of ridges and cracks, when
seen from the air, were found to be concentrated in shear zones which are the equivalent
of the shears described for the smaller scales
(Fig. 7A). These zones varied in length from
several meters to several hundreds of meters,
and in width from about a meter to some tens of
meters. They combined to form a "principal
displacement zone" in which Riedel directions

The relative arrangement of the Riedel, conjugate Riedel and P shears, which constitute the
shear zone structure, is seen to be similar in the
three deformations described in the preceding
section. The extent of this similarity is best illustrated by comparing the Riedel experiment,
shear box test, and earthquake fault at three
distinctive stages of their structural evolution,
the peak structure (stage a), the post-peak
structure (stage c) and the residual structure
(stage e). The basic shear zone dimensions and
rektive displacements corresponding to the
examples quoted here are given in Table 1.
Stage a, which in the shear box and Riedel
experiment occurs just before or at peak shear
strength, is shown in Figure 9. The over-all displacements measured at the boundaries are 6
mm in the shear box2, 8.5 mm in the Riedel
experiment, and about 150 cm in the earthquake fault. The conjugate Riedels are the first
shears to appear; their larger angle to the general movement direction causes them to be
subsequently distorted and rotated by a few
degrees. During this stage the en echelon
Riedels are still at an early phase of their
development. The examples illustrated are
taken from cases where the conjugates were
particularly well developed.
At increased displacements, P shears interconnect the Riedels at inclinations approximately symmetrical to the Riedels (Figure 10).
This is stage c, which in the shear box and
Riedel experiment, occurs about half-way
between peak and residual shear strengths. A
continuous line can now be drawn through the
different shears along most of the length of
the shear zone. Over-all displacements in the
examples illustrated are 5 mm in the shear box,
20 mm in the Riedel experiment, and about
250 cm in the earthquake fault. "Bull nose"
structures and wedges are common features at
all scales.
The example chosen in Figure 9C is, in fact, of a later
stage of the stress-displacement curve (hence, the presence of some P shears), but the peak structure formed at
about 3 mm displacement is still perfectly retained in the




Type of Shear Zone


Shear Zone
Width (W)


meters to
< 50 mm

2-100 m

max 4.5 m

1-10 m


5-20 mm
20-500 M

~30 mm
~10 mm

< 1 mm
20-200 p


20-200 M

< 10mm


Earthquake fault

clayey silt and

colluvial material

Riedel experiment
Shear box test
(entire sample)
Shear box test

< 4m
<30 mm
< 10 mm

~1 mm

* for shear zone structure to be fully formed (stage d and e)

At stage e, corresponding to the residual
shear strength in the laboratory cases, the shears
formed in the previous stages have undergone
small modifications to accommodate larger
movements (Fig. 11). The over-all displacement, 8 mm in the shear box, 30 mm in the
Riedel experiment, and about 300 cm in the
earthquake fault, is now primarily concentrated
in one or sometimes in two parallel principal
displacement shears. Elongated wedges are
formed between them in the general direction
of movement.
The strong simikrities between the structures
of different magnitudes are evident from
Figures 9 to 11. The examples were, of course,
chosen to emphasize these similarities, but
segments of the shear zone chosen at random
invariably show the trends described above.
The shear zones described in the previous
sections occurred in soils undergoing active
deformations which could be followed visually
or reconstructed with some degree of confidence. Many fossil shear zones, that is, shear
zones formed in the past but now inactive, also
display substructures of the same type (see,
for example, Norris and Barren, 1968; Skempton, 1966; Bishop, 1968), but their interpretation depends essentially on the accurate knowledge of the forces having generated these
features. Such a knowledge is rarely available
from sources independent of the structural
analysis. Indeed, substructures and small scale
structures often constitute the only available
clue to the deformation mechanism. In contrast,
some of the stress and strain characteristics of
the simpler active shear zones are known, and
the study of these shear zones may thus provide

a basis for the structural analysis of fossil shear

Our knowledge of the deformations considered here varies with each case. In the Riedel
experiment and shear box test, the over-all
strain rate is controlled and measured; in the
case of earthquake faulting, rates of movement
are usually unknown, but there is growing
evidence that ground displacements take place
over a period of time well in excess of the duration of the main bedrock rupture (Scholz and
others, 1969). Over-all normal and tangential
stresses in the shear box can be measured,
whereas the horizontal force in the Riedel
experiment can only be used to indicate relative
values of the resistance to shear. For the earthquake fault, the stresses responsible for the surface fractures are krgely unknown and not
directly deducible from microseismic data. The
structural interpretation which follows is therefore mainly related to the shear box and Riedel
experiment cases, with occasional reference to
earthquake fractures.
Peak Structure
The distortion of the markers in the Riedel
experiment and of the initial fabric in the shear
box tests indicates that the homogeneous strain
which characterizes the ascending part of the
stress-displacement curve can be considered as
a simple shear deformation. This stage is followed by the Riedel and conjugate Riedel
shears, which appear just prior to peak strength,
regardless of the type of clay or its water content (Tchalenko, 1967).
The failure condition for the majority of soils
can be adequately expressed by the Coulomb
failure criterion
r = c' + <rn' tan 0'





------- - -- --------- - ------- - -- ------------ ----------------- ----- ----------- - ------- - -------------- - ------- ------- ---------------- -------- cm (,,YY- also Fig. 10A). (B) Riedel experiment on kaolin: total displacement 19.5 mm (set1 also Fig. 4C).
where c' is the cohesion intercept, 4>' tl i c peak
angle of shearing resistance, and a,,' and r are,
respectively, the effective normal stress and
shear stress acting across the failure surlace. The
Coulomb criterion also predicts that the directions of the failure surfaces with respect to the
major principal stress <j\ are given by
/J = 45 - 0:2 .
Hvorslcv (1937), Pcynircioglu (1939) and
Gibson (1953) showed that the inclination of
failure surlaces in the tnaxial test are in closer
agreement with the Coulomb prediction il the
"true angle oi friction" 0e (Hvorslcv, 1936,
1937) is used instead of <fr' in equation (2). 'I he
chfierence 0' <$>e varies from a maximum of
about 10 tor highly active clays such as
bentomtes, to about 0 for kaolins and coarser
minerals. "I he deformation being of the simple
shear type, <TI is taken to be at 45 to the general

direction of movement,''and the failure surfaces

should be inclined at 0 f /2 and 90 </v/2 to
the movement.
The value of 4>e lor kaolin is about 23.
Average inclinations of the Rieelels and conjugate Riedels in the shear box were observed
to be, respectively, 12 and 80 - 85, hence
in reasonable agreement with the directions
predicted by the Coulomb criterion interpreted
in terms of the true angle. Riedel experiments
on kaolin as well as on clays of different 0,,, such
as London Clay ($>,. = 13) and Wyoming
Bentonitc (</> = 2.5), showed the same
relationship between peak structure inclinations
and the true angle of friction (Table 2). Thus,
Thus ran be demonstrated in the Riedel experiment
by flooding the slab with a ihm him oi \valrr. The surface tension is in1 this way eliminated, and ihc clav lails in
tension with the lormatum ot open gushes al 4^~ to the





------- - -- --------- - ------ - -- ------------ ---------------- ---- -------- - ---- - ---- --- - --------- ------- - ---------- ------- ---------------- t
8 mm (see also Fig. 11C). The NW-SE hairline cracks are due to slight shrinkage associated with thin sectioning
procedure. (B) shear box test on kaolin, detail: estimated total displacement = 3 mm.

the relationship (2), already known to hold tor

t riaxial stress conditions, is also verified for the
peak stage in the shear box test and in the
Riedel experiment. Detailed mapping of the
Dashl-e Bayaz earthquake fractures has shown
that this relationship holds reasonably well for
I he larger scale features, providing that an
over-all angle of shearing resistance between
35 and 40 was adopted tor the material. This
value of </>' was considered to be a good approximation ior the type ot overburden sediment deformed by faulting (Tchalcnko and
Arnbraseys, 1970).
Post-Peak Structure
The post-peak structure is associated with
t he decrease in shearing resistance from the peak
to the residual strength value. The Riedcls and
conjugate Riedcls created at the peak stage are
both unfavorably oriented to sustain large

relative displacements, and further straining

and shearing must take place to accommodate
increased over-all movements. The conjugate
Riedels in particular, being nearly at right
angles to the general movement, respond passively to post-peak deformations by rotation
and distortion (Fig. 5). Likewise, the Riedels
extend into undelormed material on cither side
of the shear zone where their relative displacements, from a maximum in their central portion, are rapidly reduced to zero. Markers engraved on the clay slab of the Riedel experiment and truncated by the Riedels illustrate
this inhomogencity in strain (Fig. 5). The same
process is also characteristic of this stage on the
microscopic and earthquake fault scales (Morgenstern and Tchalcnko, 1967a, Fig. 13;
Tchalenko and Ambraseys, 1970, Fig. 10).
The new structures formed as a consequence
of this kinematic restraint are the P shears



Type of Observed Predicted
Water Content % Shear Inclination Inclination

Type of Clay


(LL = 60, PL = 24)
London Clay
(LL = 79, PL = 34)
Wyoming B Bentonite
(LL = 579, PL = 45)


45, 50, 54, 56


40 and 62



150 and 167

LLAtterberg liquid limit.

12 1
78 1
7.5 1

2 1


PLAtterberg plastic limit.

oriented approximately opposite to the Riedels

with respect to the general direction of movement.4 For the shear box, it was postulated that
the formation of the P shears involved the following two processes: (1) a reduction of the
shearing resistance along the Riedel shears toward the residual strength value;6 and (2) a
local increase and rotation of the principal
stresses in the sense opposite to that of the
general movement. Further work is needed to
show whether a similar mechanism can also be
postulated for the larger scale features.

surface. For clays and soft rocks, CT' is generally

small or nil. The major principal stress is now
predicted at 45 0r/2 to the direction of the
slip surface, which is also the general direction
of movement, and the microscopic substructure
of the shear zone seems to confirm this prediction (Tchalenko, 1968).

"Riedel Within Riedel" Structure

It was seen that some of the individual
structures in the shear box, when viewed under
the microscope, presented, on a smaller scale, a
further structural arrangement basically similar
Residual Structure
to the one governing the main structure. An
The combination of displacement along the example of this structure is given in Figure 12B.
Riedel and P shears leads to the formation of the ZZ is a Riedel shear formed at peak and crossing
principal dispkcement shears oriented in the a good portion of the entire sample. Under the
general direction of movement. Simultaneously, microscope it is observed that this shear conthe active portion of the shear zone decreases in sists of a system of shears ss oriented in the
width until all the movement is concentrated Riedel direction with respect to ZZ. Prelimiin a very thin zone or on a single slip surface.6 nary results on the electron microscope indicate
At this stage, the deformation approximates that these shears are formed by parallel clay
direct shear conditions, and the shear stress rr particles lying approximately in the ss direction.
necessary to cause sliding is given by:
At this ultimate scale, the deformation mechanism
is primarily an interparticle basal plane
rr = d' + <rn' tan
slip in the direction of the structure.
where cr' is the residual cohesion intercept, <r
Similar cases of this structural arrangement
the residual angle of shearing resistance, and were found on the larger scales. Figure 12 A
crn' the effective normal stress acting on the slip shows a segment ZZ of the principal displace4
These structures have been called "thrust shears" by ment zone of the Dasht-e Bayaz earthquake
Skempton (1966) and Tchalenko (1968), and "restraint fault. The segment is in the Riedel attitude
shears" by Morgenstern and Tchalenko (1967a). Both with respect to the whole fault trace on the
terms invoke specific mechanisms which, although reason- regional scale. At greater magnifications, it is
able for the scale considered in each case, have not yet observed that the segment is formed of inbeen proved to be general to all scales. The notation P dividual Riedel shears such as ss oriented in the
was adopted by Skempton (1966) to indicate the prob- Riedel direction, this time with respect to ZZ.
ability that the material affected by these shears was in At an even greater magnification, for example
the6 "passive" Rankine state.
as seen by an observer on the ground, these
This is known to occur along structural discontinuities Riedel shears are composed of ridges and cracks,
in 6stiff clays (Skempton and Petley, 1967).
For many soils, the displacements permissible in the the latter (denoted c) being short narrow openconventional shear box are not sufficient to attain in one ings arranged in an en echelon manner and
traverse the residual stage. Special testing techniques are indicating a tensional formation mechanism.
then required (Skempton, 1964).
In both these examples, a Riedel structure

100 m


10 mm

10 mm

Figure 9. Comparison of peak structure in shear zones of different magnitudes. (A) Dasht-e Bayaz earthquake
fault (after Tchalenko and Ambraseys, 1970, Fig. 8). (B) Riedel experiment (after Tchalenko, 1967, Fig. 132). (C)
entire shear box (after Morgenstern and Tchalenko, 1967a, Fig. 5). (D) detail of shear box sample (after Morgenstern and Tchalenko, 1967a, Fig. 12). Total displacements are given in the text. Dotted lines indicate less prominent
shears. The structures plotted in the form of rose diagrams show Riedel and conjugate Riedel directions.


10 mm

10 mm

1 mm

Figure 10. Comparison of post-peak structure in shear zones of different magnitudes. (A) Dasht-e Bayaz earthquake fault (see also Fig. 7A). (B) Riedel experiment. (C) entire shear box sample. (D) detail of shear box sample
(after Tchalenko, 1968, Fig. 5). Total displacements are given in the text. Dotted lines indicate less prominent shears.
The structures plotted in the form of rose diagrams show Riedel and P shear directions.

contained within it similar Riedels on a smaller
scale. This resolution of a structure into substructures (also known for some cases of kinkbands in foliated rocks: Ramsay, 1962; Anderson, 1968; Dewey, 1969), is a process about
which very little is known. In the cases considered here, it seems to be arrested, and an
ultimate structure seems to be produced by the
emergence of an altogether different mechanism, basal plane slip in the first example and
tensional in the second, to the mechanism
operating on the larger scale. No interpretation
is offered here for these "Riedel within Riedel"
structures, the elucidation of which, both in


terms of the movement picture and the stress

history, may provide an important element in
the understanding of shear zones.
Three characteristic stages in the evolution
of a shear zone were defined on the basis of the
stress-displacement behavior and the structures
in the Riedel experiment. They are: (1) the
peak stage, during which the resistance to shear
is maximum and the structures formed are the
Riedels and conjugate Riedels; (2) the postpeak stage, during which the resistance to
shear decreases, and the structures formed are

Figure 11. Comparison of residual structure in shear zones of different magnitudes. (A) Dasht-e Bayaz earthquake fault (after Tchalenko and Ambraseys, 1970, Fig. 5). (B) Riedel experiment. (C) entire shear box sample (see
also Fig. 8A). (D) detail of shear box sample. Total displacements are given in the text. Dotted lines indicate less
prominent shears. The structures plotted in the form of rose diagrams show Riedel, P shear and principal displacement shear directions.



is of the order of 105. The similarities in structure were interpreted as indicating similarities
in the deformation mechanism. At the peak
stage, the mechanism is essentially of the simple
shear type, at the post-peak stage it is governed
by the kinematic restraints inherent in the
strain field, and at the residual stage it is of the
direct shear type. The Coulomb criterion predicts adequately the peak stage structures.
The relationships between shearing resistance
and structural evolution, and between direction
of shears and mechanical properties of the
material, expkin the most perceptible similarities between the shear zones of different
magnitudes. There are, however, further
similarities which have not been explained, for
example, in the relative dimensions of structures
Figure 12. "Riedel within Riedel" structures. (A) and substructures, in the spacing of shears, and
Dasht-e Bayaz earthquake fault. (B) detail of shear box in the development of "Riedel within Riedel"
sample (after Morgenstern and Tchalenko, 1967a, Fig. structures. The study of these points will re9). Over-all trace and general direction of movement in quire new parameters to be taken into account,
the shear box are in the direction of the sense arrows. such as the degree of homogeneity and the volume of the material participating in the deforthe P shears lying approximately symmetrically mation, the variations in local ambient presto the Riedels with respect to the general direc- sures and pore-pressures, and so forth. The fact
tion of movement; and (3) the residual stage, that these and other parameters undoubtedly
during which the resistance to shear attains a vary greatly from one scale to another makes
stable though smaller value than that of the the similarity in structure all the more remarkpeak stage, and the characteristic structure able, and shows the necessity of continued reconsists of one or several parallel principal search into the mechanism of shear zones.
displacement shears in the general direction of
These three stages were shown to be common
The author acknowledges the support of the
to deformations taking place on the microscopic Natural Environment Research Council. He is
(shear box), intermediate (Riedel experiment), also grateful to Professor A. W. Skempton,
and regional (earthquake fault) scales. The F, R. S., and to Doctors N. N. Ambraseys and
range in linear scales of the shear zones described R. J. Chandler for helpful discussions.
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