Sandbox Simulation of a Tectonic Collision Zone (Module: GEOL30350 - Geological Structures)



Third year Geology students Colm McHugh, Tonje Lund, and Chris Allwright inspect their sandbox simulation of a tectonic collision zone (Module: GEOL30350 - Geological Structures). The students have been running such experiments recently to better understand how systems of geological structures, such as faults, develop on long timescales in nature and what physical parameters control that development.The sand within the box originally comprised flat-lying layers of coloured (black) and non-coloured (yellow) sand. The sand pile was then deformed by slowly pulling it along on top of a basal sheet and colliding it against the back wall of the sandbox. As a result of this collision, a set of faults has offset the sand layers and piled them up to form a wedge-like, mini-mountain range.