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Earth Structure: An Introduction to Structural Geology and Tectonics


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Title: Earth Structure: An Introduction to Structural Geology and Tectonics

The Hashemite University Faculty of Natural
Resources and Environment Dept. of Earth and
Environmental Sciences STRUCTURAL GEOLOGY
(111201350) 3 CH (23) Lecturer Dr. Masdouq
Al-Taj E-mail
EARTH STRUCTUREAn Introduction to Structural
Geology and Tectonics2nd edition
  • Authors Ben A. Van der Pluijm Stephen Marshak
  • Publisher Norton, 2004

Other References
  • Park, R., (1997) Foundations of structural
    Geology. Chapman and Hall, London.
  • Hobbs, B., Means, W. and Williams, P., (1989)
    An outline of structural geology, 3rd ed., John
    Wiley, New York.
  • Ramsay, J. and Huber, M., (1987) The techniques
    of modern structural geology. Academic Press,

uctural_Geology.html http//
ology/classes/RWA/GS_326/GEOL326.html http//earth http//
gy/faculty/RWA/maintext.html http//www.geologysho
EXAMS First exam 15 Second exam 15 Final
exam 40 Lab. quizzes attendance 30
In this course we will cover three parts of the
text book
  • PART A Fundamentals
  • Chapter 1 Introduction
  • Chapter 2 Primary and Nontectonic Structures
  • Chapter 3 Force and Stress
  • Chapter 4 Deformation and Strain
  • Chapter 5 Rheology

  • PART B Brittle Structures
  • Chapter 6 Brittle Deformation Processes
  • Chapter 7 Joints and Veins
  • Chapter 8 Faults and Faulting
  • PART C Ductile Structures
  • Chapter 9 Ductile Deformation Processes and
  • Chapter 10 Folds and Folding

  • The aims of this course are
  • Introduces the basic mechanical principles in
    structural geology, like stress, strain, elastic
    and plastic deformation in materials and rocks.
  • Enables the student to recognize and describe
    the different geological structures (joints,
    faults, folds, foliationetc.).
  • Study the mechanism of the formation of
    different structures.
  • Helps the student to determine time-structural
    event relationships.
  • Review the skills of using the geological
    compass and the stereographic methods in
    structural geology.
  • Study geological structures in the lab and in
    the field through field trips to the surrounding

Week Subject Chapter
1 Introduction and basic terms in structural geology 1
2 Primary and nontectonic structures 2
3 Force and stress Normal and shear stress 3
4 Mohr diagram for stress 3
5 Strain measurement 4
First exam
6 Rheology 5
7 Brittle deformation processes 6
8 Initiation of brittle deformation 6
9 Joints 7
10 Faults and faulting, Fault systems 8
11 Recognizing and interpreting faults 8
Second exam
12 Ductile deformation processes and microstructures 9
13 Folds 10
14-16 Fold classification 10
14-16 The mechanics of folding 10
CHAPTER ONE Introduction 1.1 Historical Survey
  • Leonardo de Vinci (1452-1519) drew carefully
    shape of rock bodies in sketches to understand
    the natural shape of the Earth.
  • Perhaps the first description of rock deformation
    came in the 17th century by Nicholas Steno
    through the principle of original horizontality.
    He examined outcrops and observed that the
    bedding of the rocks wasnt horizontal. So, he
    recognized these rocks were (dislocated)

  • During the late 18th century and through the 19th
    century the geological discovery have been

In 1785, James Hutton introduces the doctorine of
uniformitarianisim (the present is the key to the
past). A group of scientists started to
recognize themselves as geologists. Their main
aims were To make geological maps.
Reported the formation of rocks. The
origins of specific structures and
mountain ranges. Later, ideas about the origin
of mountains have evolved gradually.
  • Firstly, they believed that movement of magma
    upward generated mountains and the associated
    folds were generated by down-slope movement along
    the flanks of these mountains. (G. P. Scrope

  • Subsequently, horizontal forces were emphasized,
    and the scientists were believed that mountain
    ranges evolved due to contraction of the earth
    that resulted from the progressive cooling.
  • Later, James Hall recognized that the Paleozoic
    strata in the Appalachian in North America were
    much thicker than correlative strata in the
    interior of the continent. This led to the
    development of geosyncline theory where deep
    subsidening sedimentary basin evolved into
    mountain range.

  • In the 20th centaury, the foundations of
    structural geology solidified, but by the 1960s
    it became a real science by the formulation of
    PLATE TECTONICS THEORY and considered as a
    revolution in earth sciences.

  • This figure after Isacks et al., 1968.

Structural geology is the study of the
three-dimensional (3 D) distribution of rock
units with respect to their deformational
histories. The primary goal of structural
geology is to use measurements of rock to get
information about the history of deformation
(strain) in the rocks, and ultimately to
understand the Forces (stress field) that
resulted in the observed deformation.
This understanding of the stress field can be
linked to important events in the regional
geologic past a common goal is to understand the
structural evolution of a particular area with
respect to regionally widespread patterns of rock
deformation (e.g., mountain building, rifting)
due to plate tectonics.
measure rock geometries. (2) reconstruct their
deformational histories. (3) calculate the
stress field that resulted in that
1.2 GEOLOGIC STRUCTURESFirstly, let us define
what we mean by geologic structure It is a
geometric feature in a rock whose shape, form and
distribution can be described. Examples of
geologic structures are folds, faults , joints,
veins, cleavage, foliation and lineations.
Consequently, there are many schemes for
classification of these structures.
1.2.1 Classification of Geological Structures
  • I. Classification based on geometry (shape and
    form of a particular structure)
  • a. planer surface
  • b. linear surface
  • c. curviplaner surface
  • This classification may be the most important
    because it includes folds, faults , joints,
    veins, cleavage, foliation and lineations.

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II. Classification based on geological
  • a. primary ripple mark, cross bedding, mud
  • b. local gravity-driven slumping.
  • c. local density inversion driven salt dome
    (form due to variation in rock density).
  • d. fluid-pressure driven injection of
    unconsolidation material due to sudden release of
  • e. tectonic due to interaction between
    lithospheric plates.
  • First four usually primary and nontectonic
    structures while the fifth is the main aspect of
    structural geology.

III. Classification based on timing of formation
  • a. synformational structure forms with initial
    deposition of rock.
  • b. penecontemporaneous structure forms before
    full lithification, but after initial deposition.
  • c. postformational structure forms after the
    rock has fully lithifide.

IV. Classification based on Process of formation
(the deformation mechanism)
  • Fracturing related to cracks in rocks.
  • Frictional sliding related to slip of one body
    of rock past another.
  • Plasticity deformation by internal flow of
    crystals without loss of cohesion.
  • Diffusion material transport in either
    solid-state or assisted by a fluid (dissolution).
  • Combination combinations of deformation
    mechanisms contributing to the overall strain.

V. Classification based on Mesoscopic
cohesiveness during deformation
  • Brittle structure forms by loss of cohesion.
  • Ductile structure forms without loss of
  • Brittle/ Ductile deformation with both brittle
    and ductile aspects.

VI. Classification based on Strain significance,
in which a reference frame must defined (usually
earth surface or the deformed layer)
  • Contractional shortening of a region
  • Extensional stretching of a region (divergence).
  • Strike-slip movement without either shorting or
    stretching (lateral slip).

VII. Classification based on Distribution of
deformation in a volume of rock
  • Continuous occurs at the rock body at all
  • Penetrative occurs throughout the rock body at
    observation scale.
  • Localized structure in continuous or penetrative
    only within a definable region.
  • Discrete structure occurs as an isolated feature.

Finally, most crustal structures are a
consequence of plate tectonics activities that
include convergence, divergence and transform
(lateral slip) movements.
1.3 Stress, strain and deformation
  • Stress is the main cause of deformation in the
    crustal rocks.
  • The stress (s) is the force (F) per unit area
    (A) of the acting plane s F / A
  • Stress(s) force/area
  • massacceleration/area
  • kg.m.s-2/m²Newton/m²
  • N/ m²Pascal (Pa)
  • Sign of stress
  • ve in case of compression.
  • -ve in case of tensions.
  • Deformation refers to any change in shape,
    position, or orientation of a body resulting from
    the application of a differential stress.

  • Deformation in general has three components -
  • Translation movement of rock from place to
    another ( i.e fault)
  • Rotation pivoting of a body around a fixed axis
    (i.e fold)
  • Strain change in size (dilation) and/or change
    in shape (distortion) of a rock.

Strain is of two types 1.
Homogeneous strain the deformation is the same
throughout the rock. 2. Heterogeneous strain
the deformation is different throughout the rock.
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  • 1.4 Structure analysis
  • What do structural geologists do?
  • Structural geologists do structural analysis,
    which involves many activities such as
  • Descriptive analysis
  • The characterization of the shape and appearance
    of geologic structures.
  • Attitude, strike, dip angle, dip direction
    ,plunge, trend, rake (pitch), apparent dip,
    trace, cross section, profile plane, position,

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2. Kinematic analysis Involve the determination
of the movement paths that rocks or parts of
rocks have taken during transformation from the
undeformed to deformed state. (use of features in
rocks to define the direction of movement on a
3. Dynamic analysis Involve development of an
understanding of how stress related to
deformation (stress and its direction). 4.
Strain analysis The development of mathematical
tools to quantifying the strain in a rock.
5. Deformation Mechanism analysis The study
of processes on the grain scale to atomic scale
that allow structures to develop , ex sliding,
fracturing, plasticity. 6. Tectonic analysis
The study of the relation between structure and
global tectonic process divergent, convergent,
Structural Analysis and Scales of Observation
  • 1. Descriptive analysis (shape and appearance,
    vocabulary, 3D orientation).
  • 2. Kinematic analysis (define the direction of
  • 3. Strain analysis (quantifying the strain

  • 4. Dynamic analysis (How stress is related to
    deformation, used microstructure).
  • 5. Deformation mechanism analysis (structural
    development in grain to atomic scale, fracture
    and flow of the rock).
  • 6. Tectonic analysis (relation between structure
    and global tectonic).

We used four relative scales of observations
  • Scale of observation
  • 1. Micro scale (thin section) microscope
  • 2. Meso scale (isolated outcrop) hummer
  • 3. Macro scale (regional) helicopter
  • 4. Mega scale (plate) Satellite, Global
    Positioning System (GPS)

  • Good observation, recognition and description of
    rocks and their structure are very important for
    field analysis.

Some guideline for the interpretation of deformed
  • Law of original horizontality (bed deposited
  • Law of superposition (strata follow one another
    in chronological).
  • Stratigraphical continuity for the same
    lithological sequence.
  • Sharp discontinuities in lithological pattern are
    faults, unconformities or intrusive contacts.

  • Deformed area can be subdivided into a number of
    region contain consistent structural attitude
    (structural domain).
  • Principle of least astonishment (simplest
    interpretation is most correct).
  • Additional subsurface data (drilling, seismic and
    other geophysical techniques) are important for
    structural geologist interpretation.
  • It is important to imagine all geological
    structure in a MODEL 3D and even more than that.
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