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A branch of geophysics dealing with the physical processes involved in forming geological structures.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



a branch of tectonics that studies the physical conditions of the occurrence of tectonic deformations, such as folds and faults, in rock layers.

Tectonophysics uses the findings of physics and mechanics regarding the plastic deformation and fracture of solid bodies to study large-scale deformations occurring in parts of the earth’s crust of nonuniform (for example, granular or stratified) structure. Because tectonic deformations develop gradually over long periods of time, tectonophysics must trace all stages in the plastic deformation of rocks and in the growth of faults in rocks. In addition, tectonophysics takes into account the characteristic crustal conditions under which the deformations occur—for example, the influence of gravity, of hydrostatic pressure, and of increased temperature gradients. The ultimate aim of tectonophysical research is to establish the genesis of observed tectonic structures, which formed in the stress fields that existed in the crust in earlier times. The importance of tectonophysics stems from the circumstance that an understanding of the mechanism of formation of tectonic structures will make it possible to predict the patterns of their distribution in the earth’s crust.

The methods of tectonophysical investigation are based on (1) the reconstruction of ancient tectonic stress fields for individual regions or the crust as a whole in accordance with the data of structural analysis and (2) the experimental reproduction of tectonic structures under laboratory conditions through the use of models. The second approach is founded on the principle of physical similitude and uses natural rocks or equivalent materials, such as silicone, clay, bitumen, petroleum oils, and gelatin.

The term “tectonophysics” was introduced by the Soviet geologists V. V. Belousov and M. V. Gzovskii in 1954. In the USSR, problems of tectonophysics are studied at the Institute of Litho-sphere Physics of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR and Moscow State University (V. V. Belousov and others), at the Institute of Geological Sciences of the Academy of Sciences of the Kazakh SSR (E. I. Patalakha and others), and in the experimental tectonic laboratory of the Institute of Geology and Geophysics of the Siberian Division of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR (I. V. Luchitskii and others). Problems in tectonophysics are discussed at sessions of the International Geological Congress and are the subject of special international symposia.

In the USSR, work in tectonophysics is published in the periodicals Geotektonika (Geotectonics) and Izvestiia AN SSSR: Seriia fizika Zemli (Proceedings of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR: Physics of the Earth). The international journal Tectonophysics has been published in the Netherlands since 1964.


Gzovskii, M. V. Osnovy tektonofiziki. Moscow, 1975.
Ramberg, H. Modelirovanie deformatsii zemnoi kory s primeneniem tsentrifugi. Moscow, 1970. (Translated from English.)
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
Wang et al., "Surface ruptures on the transverse Xiaoyudong fault: a significant segment boundary breached during the 2008 Wenchuan earthquake, China," Tectonophysics, vol.
Mazzoli, "Improved statistical multi-scale analysis of fractured reservoir analogues," Tectonophysics, vol.
Miller, "A new method to estimate location and slip of simulated rock failure events," Tectonophysics, vol.
Deffontaines (2009), "Active Deformation of Tainan Tableland of Southwestern Taiwan Based on Geodetic Measurements and SAR interferometry," Tectonophysics 466, 322-334.
Ground deformation of the southern sector of the Aeolian islands volcanic arc from geodetic data, Tectonophysics 351: 181-192.
He is also editor-in-chief of Global and Planetary Change and member of the editorial board of Tectonophysics. Professor Cloetingh has also been a promoter of more than 65 PhD students of 18 different nationalities.
Sims, "Determining earthquake recurrence intervals from deformational structures in young lacustrine sediments," Tectonophysics, vol.
Chopra, "High-temperature transient creep in olivine rocks," Tectonophysics, vol.
The asteroid is believed to be over 20 kilometres wide, according to the report of the authors published in the latest edition of Tectonophysics journal.
Arthur Lerner-Lam, Associate Director for Seismology, Geology, and Tectonophysics, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, Columbia University, said that the seismic record is not useful for determining whether the event was a nuclear or conventional explosion without making additional assumptions or inferences.