Tectonic deformation occurs when the lithosphere is subjected to mechanical and/or thermal loading, either horizontally ("extension" or "compression") or vertically ("erosion", "sediment loading", "hot mantle plume"). Such loads are simulated in the TecLab by, for instance, very slowly pushing or pulling one of the walls of the box. In response the layers of the model will start to deform, with the mode and intensity of deformation depending mainly on the (changes in) material properties of the layers and on the rate and magnitude of the applied external loading. When the layers in the analogue model are squeezed together, they will start to break and partly glide on top of each other along faults. This deformation is revealed when we cut the analogue model along vertical sections, as shown in the bottom left panel of Figure 2.
Due to the tectonic deformation inside a model, also the top surface of the model starts to deform: some parts will be uplifted, other parts will subside. This is illustrated nicely in Figure 2 (right panel), which is a digital picture of the top surface that shows the development of elongated uplifted areas (in red), which is interpreted geologically as the formation of a new mountain range (e.g. the Alps).
During an experiment we repeatedly make pictures and laser scans of the top surface of ananalogue model, so that we can track the surface development not only in space but also in time.
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