Strike-slip faults commonly display structurally complex areas of positive or negative topography. Understanding the development of such areas has important implications for earthquake studies and hydrocarbon exploration. Previous workers identified the key factors controlling the occurrence of both topographic modes and the related structural styles. Kinematic and stress boundary conditions are of first-order relevance. Surface mass transport and material properties affect fault network structure. Experiments demonstrate that dilatancy can generate positive topography even under simple-shear boundary conditions. Here, we use physical models with sand to show that the degree of compaction of the deformed rocks alone can determine the type of topography and related surface fault network structure in simple-shear settings. In our experiments, volume changes of similar to 5 are sufficient to generate localized uplift or subsidence. We discuss scalability of model volume changes and fault network structure and show that our model fault zones satisfy geometrical similarity with natural flower structures. Our results imply that compaction may be an important factor in the development of topography and fault network structure along strike-slip faults in sedimentary basins. (C) 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.