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DOI 10.1007/s10706-016-9978-9

ORIGINAL PAPER

of Earth Crust

Mohammad Hossein Taherynia .

Seyed Mahmoud Fatemi Aghda .

Ahmad Fahimifar

Ó Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Abstract In this paper by consideration of tectonic changes and resulted in a nonlinear decrease of K value

conditions along with theoretical and empirical rela- with depth.

tionships, a new strategy for estimation of the variation

range of lateral stress coefficients [K = 0.5(Sh ? Keywords In-situ stresses Lateral stress

SH)/SV] at different depths is presented. Tectonic coefficient Tectonic regime Faulting theory

regime is the main factor affecting the in situ stress

arrangement, and therefore, the lateral stress coeffi-

cient in the earth’s crust. Based on tectonic regimes and

the associated in situ stress arrangements, the upper 1 Introduction

and lower bound of K value are determined in reverse

and normal faulting tectonic regimes, respectively. Measurement of in situ stresses in different geological

Another limiting factor of in situ stress magnitudes and locations in the world indicates significant variation of

the K values at different depths is strength of the earth’s horizontal stresses and the lateral-stress coefficient,

crust. The horizontal stresses in active tectonic regions especially in shallow depths. At greater depth, the

are considered as the horizontal stress due to overbur- range of K narrows considerably and the value of K

den loading and additional horizontal tectonic stresses shows a highly nonlinear decrease with depth. At

(DSTec), therefore, horizontal stresses are assumed as depths [4 km the observed values of K are generally

combination of two main parts; first part depends on the \1. Neither Heim’s rule (K = 1) nor the biaxial stress

depth and the second part is independent of the depth. model provide a reasonable explanation for the data

Based on the results of this study, increase in horizontal trends (Zang and Stephansson 2009; Zang et al. 2012).

stresses is due to the increasing in the overburden Also, many researchers have reported a change of

loading, while the additional tectonic stresses remain tectonic regime with depth with regard to the in situ

constant, is the main reason of the tectonic regime stress measurements at different depths (Kang et al.

2010; Rummel et al. 1986). For instance, in situ stress

measurements in Björkö geothermal project near

M. H. Taherynia S. M. Fatemi Aghda (&)

Department of Geological Sciences, Kharazmi University, Stockholm, Sweden, at depths \400–500 m proved

Tehran, Iran the reverse faulting stress state, while with increasing

e-mail: fatemi@khu.ac.ir the depth more than 500 m the stress arrangement is

changed to strike-slip faulting regime (Ask and

A. Fahimifar

Department of Civil Engineering, Amirkabir University of Stephansson 2003). Also, hydraulic fracturing tests

Technology, Tehran, Iran in a 5110 m deep oil well in the Michigan Basin,

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indicated a change in tectonic regime with depth: present at local or regional scales, cannot be considered

thrust faulting from 0 to 200 m, strike-slip faulting as the main reasons for the stress decoupling.

from 200 to 4500 m and normal faulting at depths In this paper, by studying the theoretical and

[4500 m (Haimson 1977). Plumb, studied the results empirical relationships being suggested for determin-

of 1000 hydraulic fracturing tests in sedimentary rocks ing the horizontal stresses and the lateral stress

(Plumb 1994), and concluded that the reverse faulting coefficient, a possible range of K values is proposed

is the dominant tectonic regime in the upper 1 km, but for each tectonic regime with considering the stress

it changes to strike-slip or normal faulting regimes at arrangement in different tectonic regimes based on

the greater depths. Changing of stress regimes with Anderson’s faulting theory and the allowable relative

depth is referred to as stress decoupling and can occur stress magnitudes based on the frictional faulting

for various reasons, e.g. a marked hiatus in the theory. Also, considering the stress states in different

stratigraphy like, a basement-cover situation, different tectonic regimes, a new perspective is presented for

lithology in a rock sequence, non-persistent far-field explanation of the non-linear decrease of K value and

boundary stresses, post-glacial lithosphere flexure and the stress decoupling with depth.

major discontinuities intersecting the area (Stephans-

son and Zang 2012).

Post-glacial lithosphere flexure is explained for 2 Theoretical and Empirical Relationships

stress change with depth and horizontally distance in

many area such as Fennoscandia where was covered Due to difficulties and high costs of in situ stress

by Baltic ice sheet. Two simplified end-member measuring tests, development of theoretical and empir-

models to explained effect of glaciation-deglaciation ical relationships for prediction of in situ stresses have

loading–unloading cycle on the local stress field are been always an interesting task for many researchers.

presented by Stephansson (1988) and Stein et al. The uniaxial strain theory and the relationships derived

(1989). Based on Stephansson (1988) proposed model by Eaton (1969) can be considered as the basis of

the bending stresses did not relaxed during the theoretical relationships for estimation of horizontal

existence of the ice sheet and subsequent melting of stresses. Based on uniaxial strain theory, horizontal

the ice sheet expected that induced compression stress stresses are induced simply as a result of the vertical

at shallow depth (\5 km) and tensional stress at the stress and equating to stresses required to completely

base of the lithosphere under the former ice sheet. But restrain the lateral deformations of an elastic body acted

in the away from ice sheet the stress decupling are upon by this vertical stress (Brown and Hoek 1978).

inverted i.e. compression stress at shallow depth and According to this theory the two horizontal stresses will

tensional stress at the base of the lithosphere. In Stein be a fraction of the vertical stress, and, therefore the

et al. (1989) model induced bending stresses in the horizontal to vertical stress ratio is lower than 1.

lithosphere under ice sheet relaxed and unloading However, data provided from horizontal stresses

leads to tensional stress at shallow depth and com- measured in many regions show significant differences

pression stress at the base of the lithosphere under the with the results of this approach. In-situ stress measure-

former ice sheet. As shown in the two models stress ments indicated that the two principal horizontal stresses

state changes in the lithosphere thickness but in all are in general not equal and can be several times greater

mentioned cases stress decupling interval ([3 km) is than the vertical stress especially at shallow depths (Fjær

very limited with compared to lithosphere thickness et al. 2008). Tectonic stress is ascribed, by many

(30–50 km). Therefore it seems that the post-glacial investigators, as one of the main reasons for the

lithosphere flexure despite good explained for stress observed difference (Blanton and Olson 1999; Brown

perturbations over a horizontal distance, con not and Hoek 1978; Fjær et al. 2008; Sone and Zoback 2014;

explained the stress decupling with depths in the Zang et al. 2012; Zang and Stephansson 2008).

small interval. Many researchers, by using the provided data from

Also, such stress regime changes at different depths is stress measurements at specific sites and/or regions,

a common phenomenon and it has been reported in proposed empirical relationships for the variation of

many regions with different geological conditions, it vertical and horizontal stresses with depth (Brown and

seems that the reasons mentioned above, that usually are Hoek 1978; Herget 1974; Stephansson 1993; Zang and

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Geotech Geol Eng

Stephansson 2009). In-situ stress measurements indi- in tectonically active regions. According to Zoback

cated that the vertical stress magnitude can be and Zoback (2002), the state of stress in the brittle

estimated by the overburden weight in most regions upper crust is dominated by large-scale tectonic

(Amadei and Stephansson 1997; Brown and Hoek processes.

1978; Herget 1974; Zang et al. 2012). According to Based on Anderson’s faulting theory (Anderson

Brown and Hoek (1978) the vertical stress increases 1951) the arrangement of principal stresses (S1, S2, &

linearly with depth as is shown in Fig. 1. S3) can be related to the style of currently active faults,

Also Brown and Hoek (1978) presented two that would be induced by a given tectonic regime in a

envelopes that provide rough bounds for lateral stress region. According to Anderson faulting theory, in a

coefficient (K): normal faulting (N) regime SV is the greatest principal

stress (S1) and Sh is the least principal stress at depth

0:1 1:5

þ 0:3 K þ 0:5 ð1Þ (SV C SH C Sh) and therefore the value of K in this

z z

regime is\1, while in the reverse faulting (RF) regime

where z is the depth below the ground surface in the stress field is very compressive and both horizontal

kilometers. stresses exceed the vertical stress (SH C Sh C SV)

After Brown and Hoek (1978) other researchers and, therefore, the value of K in this regime is always

collected more data of stress measurements from [1. The strike-slip faulting (SS) regime represents an

different regions and modified the lower bound to intermediate stress state where the vertical stress is

K = 1/3 that is equal to the lateral stress coefficient of a greater than the minimum horizontal stress and less

biaxial stress model for t = 0.25 (Zang and Stephans- than the maximum horizontal stress (SH C Sv C Sh),

son 2008). As is shown in Fig. 1b, K converges to a thus the value of K in this regime is about 1.

value of unity (K ? 1) at depths [3 km, which is Bearing in mind that all rocks at depth essentially

consistent with time-dependent elimination of shear contain pre-existing fractures and faults with different

stress in rock (Heim’s rule) (Talobre 1957). orientations, domains of variation of in situ stress

components at different depths can be restricted by the

frictional strength of optimally oriented faults, by

3 The Tectonic Regimes and the Stress State considering the difference between the maximum (r1)

in a Region and minimum (r3) effective principal stresses con-

trolling rock mass failure (Townend and Zoback 2000;

Tectonic processes have an important influence on the Zoback and Healy 1984; Zoback 2010). Based on

in situ stresses and can even change the arrangements frictional faulting theory they suggested that an upper

stress and lateral stress

coefficients (K) with depth

according to Brown and

Hoek (1978) [modified after

Brady and Brown (2004)]

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Geotech Geol Eng

Fig. 2 Stress state of different fault types based on Anderson theory (Zang and Stephansson 2009)

bound could be estimated for the ratio of r1 and r3 by state in the three types of faulting regimes and the

using the following equation (Jaeger and Cook 1979): associated states of stress in Mohr space as shown in

r1 S1 p h 2 1=2 i2 Fig. 2.

¼ l þ1 þl ð2Þ Therefore, in the normal faulting regime (SV -

r3 S3 p

C SH C Sh) the upper bound for the ratio of vertical

where p is the pore pressure and l is the coefficient of effective stress (r1) and minimum horizontal effective

frictional sliding on pre-existing faults that are opti- stress (r3), i.e. 1/K0 is given by:

mally oriented for slip in the existing stress field.

1 SV p r1 h 2 1=2 i2

Commonly, the coefficient of friction is assumed equal ¼ ¼ l þ 1 þl ð3Þ

K 0 Sh p r 3

to 0.6 (Zoback et al. 2003). As is mentioned, by using

Anderson’s faulting theory, it can be determined that The lower bound of the lateral stress coefficient can

the in situ principal stresses (i.e. SH, Sh, or Sv) thus be calculated using Eq. (3) as Kh C 0.32 (as-

correspond to S1, S2 and S3, with the principal stress suming l = 0.6). With respect to Eq. (3), it should be

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Geotech Geol Eng

yielding a value of the effective lateral stress coeffi- 0 1 2 3

0

cient (K0 ). It should be noted that using total stress a

K=3.12

larger value for K is obtained. Therefore, assuming p is

0.5

non_zero, the calculated value of K0 using Eq. (3)

yields a lower bound for K.

In a similar manner, in the reverse faulting regime 1

Depht (km)

(SH C Sh C SV), the upper bound of the ratio of

K=1/3.12

K=1

horizontal to vertical effective stresses, i.e. K0 value 1.5 K=1.5/Z+0.5

can be calculated as:

SH p r1 h 2 1=2 i2 2

K0 ¼ ¼ l þ1 þl ð4Þ NORMAL FAULTING

SV p r 3

STRIKE-SLIP FAULTING

This equation gives the upper bound of K 2.5

THRUST FAULTING

(KH B 3.12, assuming l = 0.6). The K value

obtained from Eq. (4), similar to K obtained from 3

Eq. (3), is the effective K value. However, unlike K0

Fig. 3 Domain of variation of K in different tectonic regimes

obtained from Eq. (3), the K0 value obtained from

[data from Jamison and Cook (1978)]

Eq. (4) is the maximum value of K, and if total stresses

are used a smaller value would be calculated for K.

Therefore, the effective K calculated by Eq. (4) can be

assumed as the upper bound of K. Also, the same related with strike-slip faulting is equal to 0.32

relationship applied for the strike-slip (SS) faulting (assuming l = 0.6). Data from the World Stress

regime suggests the ratios of maximum and minimum Map (WSM) project for minimum and maximum

horizontal effective stresses will not exceed: horizontal stresses (Zang et al. 2012) is shown in

Fig. 4. The dashed red line in Fig. 4 shows the lower

SH p r1 h 2 1=2 i2

bound of the Sh/SH as calculated from Eq. (4). As is

¼ l þ1 þl ð5Þ

Sh p r3 evident, good correlation exists around the linear

Considering the above discussions, it can be regression line of Sh = 0.57 SH. It is necessary to

concluded that the domain of variations of K value mention that the stress data is collected from world-

in the normal faulting regime is between 0.32 and wide with different tectonic conditions.

1(0.32 \ K \ 1), and in the reverse faulting regime is According to Anderson’s faulting theory, as shown

between 1 and 3.12 (1 \ K \ 3.12). The expected in Fig. 2, it can be concluded that in the normal

range and the in situ measurement values of K in faulting regime difference of SH and Sh is minimum,

different tectonic regimes are shown in Fig. 3. however, in the strike-slip faulting regime difference

As is shown in Fig. 3 most of the lateral-stress of SH and Sh is maximum, and it is verified by in situ

coefficient points fall within the expected ranges. Only stress measurement database. According to the

a few points plot outside the expected ranges which database provided by Zang et al. (2012) the main

could be due to neglecting the cohesive strength of values of Sh/SH in NF, RF, and SS faulting regimes are

faults in the friction faulting theory or due to mismatch equal to 0.64, 0.57, and 0.53, respectively.

of mapped fault type. At significant depth, the effect of

cohesive strength is relatively unimportant compared

to the frictional strength of any fault, and thus can be 4 Variation of the Lateral Stress Coefficient

neglected, as suggested in Jaeger and Cook’s relation- and Tectonic Regimes with Depth

ship (Eq. 2). However, at shallower depth this may not

be true (Zoback et al. 2003). As is mentioned above, horizontal stresses at depth

Some insight on the ratio of Sh/SH can be estimated induced as a result of the vertical stress (SV) and the

by studying faulting regimes in strike-slip regimes. additional tectonic stresses (DSTec) can be expressed

According to Eq. 5 the minimum value of Sh/SH as follows:

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Geotech Geol Eng

bound estimation equation for data from across China,

that can be rewritten as below:

ShðavÞ ¼ 0:5SV þ 11:9 ð8Þ

0.88 km, and therefore, it is not expected that at a

greater depth than this there would be a reverse

faulting stress state in the studied region. Kang et al.

(2010) presented 97 stress data records from coal

mines in China that number of in situ stress measure-

ments records with reverse and normal to strike-slip

faulting regimes at different depths are presented in

Fig. 4 Variation of minimum and maximum horizontal stresses

(Zang et al. 2012) and expected upper and lower bounds based Table 1.

on Anderson and fractional faulting theory As can be observed from Table 1, a reverse faulting

stress state is absent in the data for any depths[0.6 km

in the studied area. According to Eq. (8) and similarly

Sh ¼ kSV þ DSTec ð6Þ to Eq. (7) the value of k remains equal to 0.5, but the

where k is the pure lateral stress coefficient that can be value of the additional tectonic stress which is a

calculated by using the uniaxial strain theory (Eaton regional parameter changes. Although this additional

1969). By substituting SV = 27z MPa/km in the upper term shows a wide range of variation, it should be

bound of the lateral stress coefficient (Eq. 1), the mentioned that as it is related to plate tectonics-

following equation is obtained: induced stresses, these can be considered the same for

a large area which have uniform tectonic conditions.

ShðavÞ ¼ 0:5SV þ 40:5 ð7Þ Herget (1993) studies on the stress condition of

Equations (6) and (7) have similar algebraic form and Canadian Shield indicated that the tectonic stresses

can be divided into two terms: The first term contains are typically very uniform over areas larger than

the vertical stress and therefore, depends on depth, 10,000 km2.

while the second term is independent of depth and In addition to mentioned relationships, there are

depends on the tectonic regime of the area. Thus, the several relationships that presented by different

first term of Eq. (6) can be considered as the part of authors for expression of horizontal stress profile at

horizontal stress caused by vertical stress and the specific sites or for different regions of the world. For

second term can be considered as additional tectonic example, Haimson and Voight (1977) based on results

stress. At shallow depth, the second term is more of in situ stress measurements using hydrofracturing

important than the first term, however, with increasing test carried out in Reykjavik, Iceland, presented

depth and therefore, increasing SV, the first term equations for determination horizontal stress profiles

becomes more important than the second term, which that can be rewritten as:

becomes asymptotic to a constant value with depth. Sh ¼ 0:5SV þ 1:75 ðMPaÞ ð9Þ

Thus, based on Brown and Hoek (1978) equation

(Eq. 1) and Eqs. (6) and (7), it can be concluded that SH ¼ 0:5SV þ 4:2 ðMPaÞ ð10Þ

the value of pure lateral stress coefficient (k) does not

In this area, based on Eqs. (9) and (10), the stress

notably change with depth, and remains in range of

regime change from reverse to strike-slip is occurred

1/3–1/2. Based on Eq. (7) up to a depth of 3 km only

at depth of 0.125 km and it changed to normal faulting

(SV = 81 MPa) it can be expected that the minimum

at a depth of 0.3 km. The focal mechanism solutions

horizontal stress will remain greater than the vertical

indicted the strike-slip to normal faulting regime is

stress with reveres faulting stress conditions dominant,

dominated in the stress measured site (Einarsson

as is shown in Fig. 3.

1991).

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Geotech Geol Eng

Table 1 In-situ stress state Depth (km) Reverse faulting Normal and strike slip faulting

at different depths of

Chinese underground coal 0.2 9 4

mines (Kang et al. 2010)

0.2–0.4 11 28

0.4–0.6 2 30

0.6 0 13

average horizontal stress change with depth at the 0 0.32 1 2 3 4 5

0

Canadian shied that can be rewritten by assuming

Sv = 28.5 MPa/km (Herget 1993) as below form:

ShðavÞ ¼ 0:39SV þ 33:41 ðMPaÞ ð11Þ

0.5

According to the WSM (available online at http://

www.world-stress-map.org) dominated stress regime

in at the Canadian shied is reverse faulting regime. 1

Also, rewritten form of relationships presented by

Baumgartner et al. (1991) for horizontal stress profiles

Depht (km)

at the KTB pilot hole are:

1.5

Sh ¼ 0:39SV þ 16 ðMPaÞ ð12Þ

2

Equations (12) and (13) indicated that the stress

regime change from reverse to strike-slip in depth

0.94 km and it changed to normal faulting at a depth of

6.03 km in the KTB hole. Based on the WSM the 2.5

reverse to strike-slip faulting regimes are dominated in

the adjacent area of the KTB pilot hole.

Based on relationships presented by Haimson et al. 3

(2003) for horizontal and vertical stress changes with

depth in South Korea, the horizontal stresses can be Fig. 5 Variations of K value with depth in a deep oil well in the

calculated in term of SV using bellow equations: southeast Asia with normal faulting regime and a deep hole in

the Ohio in east united states with reverse faulting regime, [data

Sh ¼ 0:34SV þ 3:65 ðMPaÞ ð14Þ selected from Zoback (2010)]

faulting dominant. Values of the lateral stress coeffi-

Based on Eqs. 14 and 15 the stress regime changes cient become more constant with an increase in depth

from reverse to strike-slip and strike-slip to normal and change the stress regime, from magnitudes of

faulting are occurred in depths of 0.21 km and greater than unity, which are characteristics of a

0.58 km, respectively. Earthquake focal mechanism reverse stress regime at shallow depth, shifting to

solutions indicate a dominant strike-slip faulting magnitudes less than unity, corresponding to a normal

regime in the stress measurement area (Jun et al. stress regime at great depth. Variations in the value of

1999). K in the reverse and normal faulting regimes are

As is mentioned above, with increasing depth there shown in Fig. 5.

is a decrease in the relative importance of the As is shown in Fig. 5, the values of K in the normal

additional tectonic stress (DSTec), thus the stress faulting regime almost remain constant at all depths as a

regime changes from reverse dominant to normal result of the insignificant (almost negligible)

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Geotech Geol Eng

contribution of the additional tectonic stress component reverse faulting regime can lead to a significant errors

for the normal faulting regime. For example, based on in evaluation of in situ horizontal stresses. However, a

presented data by Valley and Evans (2007) from stress constant K value with depth can be considered realistic

measurement in depths of 1.5 to 5 km of a deep well at in a normal faulting regime.

Soultz, France, the K value changed only 0.01 in the

3.5 km interval of stress measurement (Kd=1.5km = 0.75

amd Kd=5km = 0.76). Based on the WSM the strike-slip

to normal faulting regimes are dominated in Soultz, References

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