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《Chinese Journal of Geology》 1981-01
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ON THE MECHANICAL MECHANISM OF THE FORMATION OF GRABEN

Chang Wenyou,Li Yinhuai,Ma Fuchen and Zong Jiayou (Institute of Geology,Academia Sinica,Beijing)  
The formation of Graben is generally controlled by crustal fracture system on different levels of depth and is actually a fault-depressed belt between faulting-blocks,opening and closing with changes of stress-field (shearing-tension,shearing-compression) between faulting-blocks.Thus,in view of geomechanics,graben is generally a proto-geosyucline. The distribution of graben system is always in a zigzag pattern that is related with the zigzag fractures.Moreover,the occurrence of these zigzage fractures often have some relation with tensional stress field on the background of regional com-pressional stress field.As a result,the graben system can be frequently found on the top of an old uprising or the bottom of an old depression.The characteristics of graben system depend mainly on a series of factors,such as the mode depth,magnitude and manner of ativity of the old fracture system which controls the development of graben.The geomechaiiical and geohistoric analyses indicates that once a region is compressed,other regions adjacent to it must be tensed,and vice versa;as for a particular region,if it is compressed at one stage,it will probably be tensed at the next stage.That's why we say that graben may have been generated by tension in some regions as well as by compression in other regions.Thus,,the graben systems,either tensional or compres-sional,may have undergone alternately tensional and compressional processes in their development which may result in different response in their sedimentary formation and magmatic activities.Therefore,from the mechanical behavoir,the graben systems can be classified into three categories: tensional,shearing-tensional and shearing-compres-sional.They developed on different levels) of depth and with varied magnitude of activity and show significantly different characteristics in their magma and sedimentary formations and deep-seated geophysical field.Hence the graben systems can also be divided into four orders i.e.superficial,foundational,crustal and lithospheric.Under tensional stress the grabens developed in the succession of superficial-foundational-crustal-lithospheric,in other words,it is a transitional process from continental crust to oceanic crust.While under compressional stress,their evolution was in an opposite direction,that is,from oceanic crust to continental crust.Since the formation and development of graben systems are in close relation to faulting systems,the problem of the driving force for graben activity should be explored in the light of world-scale fracture network.The so-called "mantle material uprising" may be a source to form a tensional stress field and to promote the formation of a graben.However,the principal factor causing the uprising of upper mantle materials is the fracture penetrating into lithosphere which provides a passage for them.
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