Flow behaviour and physical chemistry of bouncing putties and related polymers in view of tectonic laboratory applications Academic Article uri icon


  • The initiation of analogue studies of rock flow is stimulated by improving our knowledge of suitable model materials. Bouncing Putties and "Plasticines" are the most frequently used model materials in analogue studies of flow instabilities in deforming rocks. Polydimethyl-siloxane (PDMS) and polyborondimethylsiloxane (PBDMS), both substrates of Bouncing Putty, are introduced as convenient geological model materials. The chemistry of PDMS, PBDMS, Bouncing Putties and "Plasticines" is reviewed. A comprehensive set of instructions and graphs is provided for the manipulation of these model materials. In particular, a high viscosity PDMS produced as an intermediate compound under the code name SGM36 by Dow Corning (Great Britain) opens exciting possibilities for analogue studies of rock flow, because it is perfectly transparent. This allows continuous observation of three-dimensional strain markers during an experiment. The polymeric flow mechanisms are compared with the flow behaviour and crystal plasticity theory of rocks. The flow of natural rocks is taken to be of Reiner-Rivlin type with powers n varying between 1 and 10. Flow curves have been constructed for Bouncing Putties, Plastilinas (cf. Plasticines) and SGM36 (cf. PDMS). These original curves are supplemented with extensive data on similar materials compiled from the literature. The combined data reveal a consistent flow curve pattern for each group of model materials considered. Strain-rate softening of commercially available Bouncing Putties and "Plasticines" at low strain rates can be attributed to the solid filler concentration. The power n, which describes the departure from Newtonian flow, appears to be dependent on the angular filler volume concentration c and is governed by the preliminary equation n = 1-11c + 48c2. This finding provides a technique for manipulating liquid polymers to simulate natural rock flow with various powers of n. The (T, P) dependence of the viscosity and thermal properties of PDMS are outlined to stimulate modelling which includes natural (T, P) gradients. © 1986.

author list (cited authors)

  • Weijermars, R.

citation count

  • 253

publication date

  • April 1986