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Structure Geology

Primary Structures

Structure Geology Primary Structures Formed at the same time as their host rock Divided in to

Formed at the same time as their host rock

Divided in to


Secondary Structures

host rock Divided in to Unconformity Secondary Structures Imposed on older rocks as a result of

Imposed on older rocks as a

result of deformation

A gap in geologic records, Long periods of time when deposition ceased, erosion removed formed rocks then deposition resumed.


Primary structures are features of rocks that form at or shortly after the time of

formation of the rock itself. They are important for a number of reasons:

primary structures often allow us to determine to original facing direction of strata; primary structures can be used as strain markers in deformed rocks; some primary features (fossils) are useful in age determination; primary structures help us interpret the conditions under which the rock was formed. It

is also very important to be able to recognize primary features and distinguish

them from later tectonic features. You should be able to recognize and understand the importance of all of the following:

Sedimentary structures

• Bedding

• Graded beds

• Ripple marks


Mud cracks

• Fossils (tracks, imprints, body fossils etc., esp. stromatolites)

The Fundamental Structures (p.9-17) contacts - boundaries between rock units

primary structures - develop during formation of rock.

In sedimentary rocks, may provide information on stratigraphic sequence:

- relative positions of older and younger rocks (facing)

- transport direction during deposition

examples: bedding, cross-beds, ripple marks, graded beds, sole marks, mud


In igneous rocks, may be related to composition and/or viscosity of magma, or the environment in which rocks cooled

examples: flow structure (lava), (submarine) pillow lava, gas vesicles,

columnar joints, schlieren

Secondary structures - develop as a result of deformation


shear fractures slickenlines

tensional fractures faults





shear zones

Can you make a case that all contacts are secondary structures?

Detailed Structural Analysis

Note that secondary structures are defined by lines or planes for which an orientation can be measured. In analyzing structures we try to determine:

their location, geometry, and orientation with reference to the

earth's surface and a North-South-East-West coordinate system:

descriptive analysis:

the stages in the structure's evolution, involving movements that changed its location or orientation and changes in shape and size:

kinematic analysis:

the forces and stresses responsible for creating the structure:

dynamic analysis.

Why do we want to understand deformation? natural hazards economic resources basic science