Non-linear critical taper model and determination of accretionary wedge strength

Che Ming Yang, Jia Jyun Dong, Yuan Lung Hsieh, Hsueh Hua Liu, Cheng Lung Liu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


The critical taper model has been widely used to evaluate the strength contrast between the wedge and the basal detachment of fold-and-thrust belts and accretionary wedges. However, determination of the strength parameters using the traditional critical taper model, which adopts the Mohr–Coulomb failure criterion, is difficult, if not impossible. In this study, we propose a modified critical taper model that incorporates the non-linear Hoek–Brown failure criterion. The parameters in the proposed critical Hoek–Brown wedge CHBW model can be directly evaluated via field investigations and laboratory tests. Meanwhile, the wedge strength is a function of the wedge thickness, which is oriented from stress non-linearity. The fold-and-thrust belt in western central Taiwan was used as an example to validate the proposed model. The determined wedge strength was 0.86 using a representative wedge thickness of 5.3 km; this was close to the inferred value of 0.6 from the critical taper. Interestingly, a concave topographic relief is predicted as a result of the wedge thickness dependency of the wedge strength, even if the wedge is composed of homogeneous materials and if the strength of the detachment is uniform. This study demonstrates that the influence of wedge strength on the critical taper angle can be quantified by the spatial distribution of strength variables and by the consideration of the wedge thickness dependency of wedge strength.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)213-226
Number of pages14
StatePublished - 5 Dec 2016


  • Accretionary wedge
  • Critical taper model
  • Fold-and-thrust belt
  • Heterogeneity
  • Hoek–Brown failure criterion
  • Wedge strength


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