Evolving fracture patterns: columnar joints, mud cracks and polygonal terrain

Goehring, L. ORCID: 0000-0002-3858-7295, 2013. Evolving fracture patterns: columnar joints, mud cracks and polygonal terrain. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences, 371 (2004), p. 20120353. ISSN 1364-503X

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Abstract

When cracks form in a thin contracting layer, they sequentially break the layer into smaller and smaller pieces. A rectilinear crack pattern encodes information about the order of crack formation, as later cracks tend to intersect with earlier cracks at right angles. In a hexagonal pattern, in contrast, the angles between all cracks at a vertex are near 120°. Hexagonal crack patterns are typically seen when a crack network opens and heals repeatedly, in a thin layer, or advances by many intermittent steps into a thick layer. Here, it is shown how both types of pattern can arise from identical forces, and how a rectilinear crack pattern can evolve towards a hexagonal one. Such an evolution is expected when cracks undergo many opening cycles, where the cracks in any cycle are guided by the positions of cracks in the previous cycle but when they can slightly vary their position and order of opening. The general features of this evolution are outlined and compared with a review of the specific patterns of contraction cracks in dried mud, polygonal terrain, columnar joints and eroding gypsum–sand cements.

Item Type: Journal article
Publication Title: Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences
Creators: Goehring, L.
Publisher: The Royal Society Publishing
Date: 4 November 2013
Volume: 371
Number: 2004
ISSN: 1364-503X
Identifiers:
NumberType
10.1098/rsta.2012.0353DOI
24191108PubMed ID
Divisions: Schools > School of Science and Technology
Depositing User: Jonathan Gallacher
Date Added: 05 Sep 2016 10:10
Last Modified: 09 Jun 2017 14:05
URI: http://irep.ntu.ac.uk/id/eprint/28376

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