In situ stress determinations in North America, southern Africa, and Australia indicate that on the average the maximum shear stress increases linearly with depth to at least 5.1 km measured in soft rock, such as shale and sandstone, and to 3.7 km in hard rock, including granite and quartzite. Regression lines fitted to the data yield gradients of 3.8 MPa/km and 6.6 MPa/km for soft and hard rock, respectively. Generally, the maximum shear stress in compressional states of stress for which the least principal stress is oriented near vertically is substantially greater than in extensional stress regimes, with the greatest principal stress in a vertical direction. The equations of equilibrium and compatibility can be used to provide functional constrains on the state of stress. If the stress is assumed to vary only with depth z in a given region, then all nonzero components must have the form A + Bz, where A and B are constants which generally differ for the various components. - Author
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Some constraints on levels of shear stress in the crust from observations and theory.