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Structure Geology

Divided in to

Primary Structures
Formed at the same time
as their host rock


Secondary Structures
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
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
tensional fractures
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