Faults and their deeper level equivalents, shear zones, are localized regions of intense deformation within the Earth. They are recognized at all scales from micro to plate boundary, and are important examples of the nature of heterogeneous deformation in natural rocks. Faults and shear zones are significant as they profoundly influence the location, architecture and evolution of a broad range of geological phenomena. The topography and bathymetry of the Earth's surface is marked by mountain belts and sedimentary basins which are controlled by faults and shear zones. In addition faults and shear zones control fluid migration and transport including hydrothermal and hydrocarbon systems. Once faults and shear zones are established, they are often long-lived features prone to multiple reactivation over very large time-scales. This collection of papers addresses lithospheric deformation and the rheology of shear zones, together with processes of partitioning and the unravelling of fault and shear zone histories.
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