Fault gouge

Salmon-colored fault gouge and associated fault separates two different rock types on the left (dark grey) and right (light grey). From the Gobi of Mongolia.

Fault gouge is an unconsolidated tectonite (a rock formed by tectonic forces) with a very small grain size. Fault gouge has no cohesion, it is normally an unconsolidated rock type, unless cementation took place at a later stage. A fault gouge forms in the same way as fault breccia, the latter also having larger clasts.[1]

Gouge filled faults can be weak planes in rock masses. If compressive stresses are enough these can cause compressive yielding or eventually rock fracture. [2]


Fault gouge forms by tectonic movement along a localized zone of brittle deformation (a fault zone) in a rock. The grinding and milling that results when the two sides of the fault zone move along each other results in a material that is made of loose fragments. First a fault breccia will form, but if the grinding continues the rock becomes fault gouge.

See also


  1. Twiss, R.J. & Moores, E.M., 2000 (6th edition): Structural Geology, W.H. Freeman & co, ISBN 0-7167-2252-6; p. 55
  2. Bertuzzi, R., 2015: Tunnel Support Loading Mechanism, UNSW, Sydney, Australia; p. 1
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