The question of whether single- or multi-layers of sedimentary rocks will fault or fold when subjected to layer-parallel shortening is investigated by means of the theory of elastic-plastic, strain-hardening materials, which should closely describe the properties of sedimentary rocks at high levels in the Earth's crust. The most attractive feature of the theory is that folding and faulting, intimately related in nature, are different responses of the same idealized material to different conditions. When single-layers of sedimentary rock behave much as strain-hardening materials they are unlikely to fold, rather they tend to fault, because contrasts in elasticity and strength properties of sedimentary rocks are low. Amplifications of folds in such materials are negligible whether contacts between layer and media are bonded or free to slip for single layers of dolomite, limestone, sandstone, or siltstone in media of shale. Multilayers of these same rocks fault rather than fold if contacts are bonded, but they fold readily if contacts between layers are frictionless, or have low yield strengths, for example due to high pore-water pressure. Faults may accompany the folds, occurring where compression is increased in cores of folds. Where there is predominant reverse faulting in sedimentary sequences, there probably were few structural units. ?? 1980.
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Folding and faulting of strain-hardening sedimentary rocks