Normal faults

Normal faults generally occur in places where the lithosphere is being stretched. Consequently they are the chief structural components of many sedimentary rift basins (e.g. the North Sea) where they have major significance for hydrocarbon exploration. They can also be found in deltas, at the rear edges of huge gravitation slumps and slides. Normal faults can show diffeent geometries - and a few are shown here. In some situations the faults can become gently dipping at depth so that they have a spoon (or listric) shape. Other normal faults are found in batches, dipping in the same direction, with rotated fault blocks between. These are termed domino faults. Although most active normal faults can be shown to dip at angles steeper than 50 degrees, there are examples of very low-angle normal faults. These are often termed "detachments" - although this is a pretty vague term! Detachments show gentle dips and often expose high grade metamorphic rocks in their footwalls. These footwalls can be termed metamorphic core complexes. Normal faulting is now thought to be an important way in which metamorphic rocks come to be at the earth's surface today.

Return to faults menu

Learning structure home page