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Geoscientist Online

The Geometry & Growth of Normal Faults


Normal faults are the fundamental crustal structures that accommodate extension within extensional sedimentary basins, developed in continental rifts and passive margin settings. Their geometry and growth are intimately linked and the current understanding of how these faults grow is directly derived from observations of fault geometry. The volume is the outcome of a conference (of the same title) held at the Geological Society of London in 2014 in honour of a pioneer in the field, Juan Watterson.

Introduced with an overview paper from the editors, the volume presents 23 papers covering the current research into the geometry and growth of normal faults. Organised into five thematic sections - Fault geometric analysis, Fault kinematic analysis, Fault zone structure, Fault-related folding and Pre-existing structure and reactivation – these papers present the latest research outcomes from both outcrop and subsurface studies of the geometrical evolution of normal faults from several significant global basins. Further complementary studies using analogue and numerical modelling techniques are included and underpin the current understanding of the fundamental aspects of normal fault kinematics. Research topics are varied and include how fault length evolves with displacement, how faults interact with each other, the controls exerted by pre-existing structure on fault development and the nature and origin of fault-related folding.

The volume provides an in-depth description of current models of fault growth, and discusses the methods by which these models can be investigated. The main focus of the volume emphasises how geometric observations provide constraints on fault growth.

In summary, the volume provides an excellent overview of the recent interdisciplinary geoscientific developments within this important and evolving field. The contributions are well-written and edited, complemented with appropriate figures, photographs and data-tables, features that one has come to expect from the GSL Special Publication series. The editors and contributors are to be congratulated. An informative and recommended read.

The anticipated readership would be from both academic researchers and industry professionals that are interested in acquiring an up to date and ‘holistic’ understanding of the structural geological aspects of the development of normal faulting.

Reviewed by Mark Griffin

THE GEOMETRY AND GROWTH OF NORMAL FAULTS by CHILDS, C., HOLDSWORTH, R. E., JACKSON, C. A.-L., MANZOCCHI, T., WALSH, J. J. and YIELDING, G. (eds). Geological Society of London Special Publication No 439. 2017. Geological Society of London. ISBN 978-1-86239-967-9. Hbk. 540pp. ISSN 0305-8719. List Price: £120.00, W: