Many classic analyses of faults generally consider the faults to cut continuously through a rock volume. However, in detail, faults can appear as series of segments that are distinct entities. If on a cross-section you think that different beds are offset by a single, continuous fault surface, this fault can be termed "hard-linked". However, if bed offsets occur on faults that do not link directly the geometry is referred to as being "soft linked". As a general rule of thumb, the length of a fault is approximately ten times greater (or more) than the displacement on the fault. So a fault 10 km long can only have moved 1 km. So soft linked faults cannot accommodate very great displacements - or the unfaulted gaps in the fault zone network must become very highly strained. This set of web pages, primarily directed at intermediate-level structural geology courses, shows some of the basic features of soft-linked faults. You can examine soft-linked normal faults, soft-linked thrust systems and soft-linked strike-slip zones.
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