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Geologists study rocks in outcrops (natural or

man-made exposures such as road cuts or
quarries), or in drill cores.
When studying an outcrop of sedimentary rock,
the most obvious feature is bedding (also called
strata or layers).

Although the rocks may be
tilted or folded, the sediments
were originally laid down in
horizontal beds, which
extended as continuous
layers in all directions (such
as a layer of mud on the sea
floor), with the oldest layers
on the bottom and the
youngest layers on top

It was recognized in the 1600's that in a
sedimentary sequence, the older beds are on
the bottom, and the younger beds are on the
top. This has come to be called the Principle
of Superposition.
Every day you put another newspaper on the pile.
After several weeks have passed, you have a
considerable stack of newspapers, and the oldest
ones will be on the bottom of the pile and the most
recent ones will be on the top.

This fairly obvious, but very important fact

about layering was first noted by Nicholaus
Steno, and is the first of three principles
which have come to be known as Steno's
Laws. .

Steno's second law

Steno's second law is the Principle
of Original Horizontality, which
states that sediments are deposited
in flat, horizontal layers.
We can recognize this easily if we
consider a sedimentary
environment such as the sea floor
or the bottom of a lake.
A flat, horizontal layer of sediment
will be deposited.

Steno's third law

Steno's third law is the Principle
Original Lateral Continuity.


If we consider again the sediment

being deposited on the seafloor, the
sediment will not only be deposited
in a flat layer, it will be a layer that
extends for a considerable distance
in all directions. In other words, the
layer is laterally continuous.


The Principle of Intrusive Relationships

Where an igneous intrusion cuts across a sequence of
sedimentary rock, the relative ages of these two units can
be determined.
The sedimentary rocks are older than the igneous rock
which intrudes them.
(In other words, the sedimentary rocks had to be there
first, so that the igneous rocks would have something to
Or, you could say, the intrusion is younger than the rocks
it cuts.

The Principle of Cross-Cutting Relationships

Where a fault cuts across a sequence of
sedimentary rock, the relative ages of the
fault and the sedimentary sequence can
be determined.
The fault is younger than the rocks it
The sedimentary rocks are older than the
fault which cuts them, because they had
to be there first, before they could be
You might be able to locate a "key bed"
which has been offset by the fault. If so,
you will be able to determine the type of
fault (normal fault/reverse fault)

A lithostratigraphic unit is defined as a
body of sedimentary, extrusive
igneous or metasedimentary strata
which is distinguished on the basis of
lithologic characteristics.
The smallest lithostratigraphic rock
unit is the bed.
A formation is a set of similar beds,
and formations are the fundamental
units of stratigraphy.

Fundamental units of stratigraphy

Formations must have names.
Formations are usually named for
some geographic locality where
they are particularly well exposed.
This locality is referred to as the
type section. If the beds are
dominated by a single rock type,
this may appear in the name.
Also, to be valid, the name of a
formation must be published in
the geological literature.

Stratigraphic Section

Geologists can draw
stratigraphic sections for
several outcrops (or cores) in
an area, and then trace beds
from one section to another.
This is called lithologic
correlation .
Basically, correlation
demonstrates the equivalency
of rock units across an area.
The sections being correlated
are commonly miles apart.

Key beds
Key beds or marker beds tend to
have some unusual, distinguishing
feature which allows them to be
readily identified,
such as a bed of volcanic ash in a
sedimentary sequence, or a bed of
conglomerate in a sandstone sequence, or
a bed of fossil shells or bones, or a bed of
limestone in a shale sequence.

Key beds or marker beds should

also be laterally extensive, to aid in
correlation over a large area.

Sometimes, one or more rock units are missing from the
middle of a sequence. This contact is called an
Unconformities are surfaces which represents a gap in the
geologic record, because of either erosion or

In some cases, a bed thins progressively in one direction
until it pinches out.
A pinchout may or may not be accompanied by the
increase in thickness of an adjacent unit.
In some case, the entire sedimentary section thins in a
certain direction.


Geologists started to realize

that you can trace certain
strata by comparing the
fossils that it contains. The
use of fossils became an
important tool to unravel the
history of the Earth.

In the figure of cores, each
core represents a slice of
the Earth.
In "A," the green shells are
the oldest and the blue sea
stars are the youngest.
You can see that as you go
from cores A to D the fauna
adds snails to the region.

Seismic Stratigraphy
Interpreting how the Earths
sedimentary layers have
formed, is difficult.
Cores taken on land and from
the ocean are not only
expensive to retrieve, but
represent a small percentage of
the Earths surface.
Methods using seismic waves
developed in the 1960's help to
observe the crusts layers in

Seismic Stratigraphy
Seismic stratigraphy is when energy waves are used to bounce off the
different layers of the Earth.These layers provide us with data that a
seismic stratigrapher can then interpret .
For example, the seismic profile below shows the results of waves
bouncing off the different layers and then recorded on the surface of
the Earth.
These "wavy" images can then be used to reconstruct the area in rock
units, as shown in the interpretation of the seismic profile.

Seismic Stratigraphy
These advances have allowed geologists to map more area
than ever before.
Prior to these advances, only outcrops and geologists walking
and recording on their maps could be used.

Types of Stresses

Kinds of Material
We can divide materials into two classes that depend on
their relative behavior under stress.
Brittle materials have a small or large region of elastic
behavior but only a small region of ductile behavior before
they fracture.
Ductile materials have a small region of elastic behavior
and a large region of ductile behavior before they fracture.

Stages of Deformation
When a rock is subjected to increasing stress it
passes through 3 successive stages of
Elastic Deformation wherein
the strain is reversible.
Ductile Deformation wherein
the strain is irreversible.
Fracture irreversible strain
wherein the material breaks.

Fracture of Brittle Rocks

Faults occur when brittle rocks
Types of Faults
fracture and there is an offset along
the fracture. When the offset is
small, the displacement can be
Faults can be divided into
easily measured, but sometimes
several different types
the displacement is so large that it
depending on the direction of
is difficult to measure.
relative displacement.

Since faults are planar

features, the concept of strike
and dip also applies, and thus
the strike and dip of a fault
plane can be measured.

One division of faults is

between dip-slip faults, where
the displacement is measured
along the dip direction of the
fault, and strike-slip faults
where the displacement is
horizontal, parallel to the
strike of the fault.

Dip Slip Faults

Dip slip faults are faults that have an inclined fault plane and along which
the relative displacement or offset has occurred along the dip direction.
Note that in looking at the displacement on any fault we don't know which
side actually moved or if both sides moved, all we can determine is the
relative sense of motion.
For any inclined fault plane we define the block above the fault as the
hanging wall block and the block below the fault as the footwall block.
Normal Faults Are faults that result from horizontal tensional stresses in brittle rocks and
where the hanging-wall block has moved down relative to the footwall

Horsts and Grabens

Due to the tensional stress responsible for normal faults,
they often occur in a series, with adjacent faults dipping in
opposite directions.
In such a case the down-dropped blocks form grabens and
the uplifted blocks form horsts.
In areas where tensional stress has recently affected the
crust, the grabens may form rift valleys and the uplifted
horst blocks may form linear mountain ranges.
The Badin subsurface area is an example of an area where
continental extension has created such a rift.

Reverse Faults
Reverse Faults are faults

that result from horizontal

compressional stresses in
brittle rocks, where the
hanging-wall block has moved
up relative the footwall block

A Thrust Fault is a special case of a reverse

fault where the dip of the fault
is less than 15o.
Thrust faults can have
considerable displacement,
measuring hundreds of
kilometers, and can result in
older strata overlying younger

Strike Slip Faults

These are faults where the relative motion on the fault has taken place
along a horizontal direction.
Such faults result from shear stresses acting in the crust.
Strike slip faults can be of two varieties, depending on the sense of
To an observer standing on one side of the fault and looking across
the fault, if the block on the other side has moved to the left, we say
that the fault is a left-lateral strike-slip fault. If the block on the other
side has moved to the right, we say that the fault is a right-lateral
strike-slip fault.
The famous chaman Ornach Nal Fault in Pakistanis an example of a
right-lateral strike-slip fault. Displacements on this fault are estimated
many hundreds feet km.

These are a special class of
strike-slip faults.
These are plate boundaries
along which two plates slide
past one another in a horizontal
The most common type of
transform faults occur where
oceanic ridges are offset.
Note that the transform fault
only occurs between the two
segments of the ridge.
Outside of this area there is no
relative movement because
blocks are moving in the same
These areas are called fracture

Evidence of Movement on Faults

Slikensides are scratch marks that are left on
the fault plane as one block moves relative to
the other.
Slickensides can be used to determine the
direction and sense of motion on a fault.
Fault Breccias are crumbled up rocks
consisting of angular fragments that were
formed as a result of grinding and crushing
movement along a fault.
Folding of Ductile Rocks

Evidence of Movement on Faults

When rocks deform in a ductile manner, instead
of fracturing to form faults, they may bend or
fold, and the resulting structures are called
Folds result from compressional stresses acting
over considerable time.
Because the strain rate is low, rocks that we
normally consider brittle can behave in a ductile
manner resulting in such folds.

Different Kinds Of Fold

Classification of Folds
A fold is called an isoclinal (iso means same, and
cline means angle, so isoclinal means the limbs have
the same angle.
Note the isoclinal fold depicted in the diagram below
is also a symmetrical fold.
If the folding is so intense that the strata on one limb
of the fold becomes nearly upside down, the fold is
called an overturned fold.
An overturned fold with an axial plane that is nearly
horizontal is called a recumbant fold.
A fold that has no curvature in its hinge and straightsided limbs that form a zigzag pattern is called a


Fold shapes:
overturned - tipped in one direction so that one of the limbs is overturned
recumbent - lying on its side

Kinds of folds
are the simplest types of
folds. Monoclines occur
when horizontal strata are
bent upward so that the two
limbs of the fold are still

Anticlines are folds where

the originally horizontal
strata has been folded
upward, and the two limbs
of the fold dip away from the
hinge of the fold

Synclines are folds where
the originally horizontal
strata have been folded
downward, and the two
limbs of the fold dip inward
toward the hinge of the fold.
Synclines and anticlines
usually occur together such
that the limb of a syncline is
also the limb of an anticline.

Geometry of Folds

Geometry of Folds - Folds are

described by their form and

The sides of a fold are called limbs.

The limbs intersect at the tightest
part of the fold, called the hinge.
A line connecting all points on the
hinge is called the fold axis.
In the diagrams above, the fold axes
are horizontal,
but if the fold axis is not horizontal
the fold is called a plunging fold and
the angle that the fold axis makes
with a horizontal line is called the
plunge of the fold.
An imaginary plane that includes the
fold axis and divides the fold as
symmetrically as possible is called
the axial plane of the fold

Some Kinds of fold

Note that if a plunging
fold intersects a
horizontal surface, we
will see the pattern of
the fold on the surface.

Classification of Folds
Folds can be classified based on their
If the two limbs of the fold dip away from the axis
with the same angle, the fold is said to be a
symmetrical fold.
If the limbs dip at different angles, the folds are said
to be asymmetrical folds.
If the compressional stresses that cause the folding
are intense, the fold can close up and have limbs that
are parallel to each other.

The Relationship Between Folding

and Faulting
Because different rocks
behave differently under
stress, we expect that some
rocks when subjected to the
same stress will fracture or
fault, while others will fold.
When such contrasting rocks
occur in the same area, such
as ductile rocks overlying
brittle rocks, the brittle rocks
may fault and the ductile rocks
may bend or fold over the fault
Also since even ductile rocks
can eventually fracture under
high stress, rocks may fold up
to a certain point then fracture
to form a fault.