Faults are of major interest both in structural geology, tectonics, and in engineering geology and rock mechanics. The interest in faults and fault zones is practical as well as scientific and aestethic because faults and associated structures form the major discontinuities in the Earth´s upper crust and are largely responsible for the design and shape of the great mountain belts.
The formation of faults dramatically changes the characteristics of an orogen and of rock mass at all scales. At the scale of the orogen and at outcrop-scale, associated structures (shear and extensional fractures) result in disintegration of the rock mass and enhanced accessibility to several weathering processes; at smaller scales, it results in structural, chemical and mechanical changes (e.g., shear resistence).
The main intention of this project is the the reconstruction of the evolution of fault rocks during continuous deformation within a brittle shear zone, the chemical alterations of both the host and the fault rocks, and the relationship between confining faults and structures in the internal parts of an uplifting massif. For a case study, we have chosen the Lavanttal Fault at the western margin of the Koralm Complex. This area has been selected because of our wide knowledge of this part of the Eastern Alps due to own field studies, and because the Koralm Tunnel with a length of 32.8 km is planned to be built under Koralm Massif between Deutschlandsberg and St. Andrä south of Wolfsberg.