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Structural

Geology
Spring 2003

Structural Geology
► Structural

geologists are concerned
with why parts of the Earth have been
bent into folds and others have been
broken by faults.
► Mapping of these structures provides
important information to land
managers and mineral exploration.
► Understanding of these features help
us understand the dynamic Earth.

Plate Tectonics

Tectonic Structures
► Most

structures are driven by the
forces of Plate Tectonics
► The kinds of structures are determined
by:




Temperature and pressure
Composition
Layering
Anisotropy or Isotropy of the layers
Amount of fluids present

Tectonic Structures ► Time (or rate of change) is very importance  A rock may behave in a ductile or brittle fashion depending upon how quickly it is deformed .

Tectonic Structures ► Ductile     deformation produces: Folds Ductile Faults Cleavages Foliation .

Tectonic Structures ► Brittle Deformation  Certain types of folds  Brittle Faults  Joints .

Nontectonic Structures ► Nontectonic structures can mimic tectonic structures  Meteor impacts  Landslides  Structures produce by gravitational forces .

3-Dimensional Objects ► Visualization of 3-Dimensional Objects .

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oceanic ridges . parts of entire continents.Structural Geology ► Subdisciplines of Structural Geology  Field Relations ► Make accurate geologic maps ► Measure orientations of small structures to inform us of the shape of larger structures ► Study the sequence of development and superposition of different kinds of structures  Rock Mechanics – the application of physics to the study of rock materials.  Tectonic and Regional Structural Geology – Study of mountain ranges. trenches and island arcs.

Applications of Structural Geology ► Engineering       Issues Bridges Dams Power Plants Highway Cuts Large Buildings Airports .

Applications of Structural Geology ► Environmental      Issues Earthquake hazard Location of landfill sites Contamination cleanup Distribution of groundwater Mineral exploration .

Faults ► Macroscopic – Mountainside to map levels  Basins.Scale in Structural Geology ► Microscopic – Need magnification  Foliation. domes. Micro folds ► Mesoscopic – Hand specimens and outcrops  Foliation. Folds. Metamorphic Core Complexes .

Scale in Structural Geology ► Non-penetrative structures – not present on all scales  Faults  Isolated folds ► Penetrative structures – found on any scale that we chose to study  Slaty cleavage  Foliation  Some folds .

Scale and Folds Figure 1-6 .

Fundamental Concepts ► Doctrine of Uniformitarianism ► Law of Superposition ► Law of Original Horizontality ► Law of Cross-Cutting Relationships ► Law of Faunal Succession ► Multiple Working Hypotheses ► Outrageous Hypothesis .

Fundamental Concepts ► Pumpelly’s Rule – Small structures are a key to and mimic the styles and orientations of larger structures of the same generation within a particular area. .

Plate Tectonics ► Driving Mechanisms  Convection  Push-Pull Theory ► Plate Boundaries  Divergent  Convergent  Transform .

Geochronology ► Absolute Age Dating ► Review of atomic structure ► Most useful isotope decay processes .

Using radioactivity in dating ► Reviewing ►Atomic basic atomic structure number  An element’s identifying number  Equal to the number of protons in the atom’s nucleus ►Mass number  Sum of the number of protons and neutrons in an atom’s nucleus .

Using radioactivity in dating ► Reviewing basic atomic structure ►Isotope  Variant of the same parent atom  Differs in the number of neutrons  Results in a different mass number than the parent atom .

Using radioactivity in dating ► Radioactivity ►Spontaneous changes (decay) in the structure of atomic nuclei ► Types of radioactive decay ►Alpha emission  Emission of 2 protons and 2 neutrons (an alpha particle)  Mass number is reduced by 4 and the atomic number is lowered by 2 .

Using radioactivity in dating ► Types of radioactive decay ►Beta emission  An electron (beta particle) is ejected from the nucleus  Mass number remains unchanged and the atomic number increases by 1 .

Using radioactivity in dating ► Types of radioactive decay ►Electron capture  An electron is captured by the nucleus  The electron combines with a proton to form a neutron  Mass number remains unchanged and the atomic number decreases by 1 .

Common Types of Radioactive Decay .

Using radioactivity in dating ► Parent – an unstable radioactive isotope ► Daughter product – the isotopes resulting from the decay of a parent ► Half-life – the time required for onehalf of the radioactive nuclei in a sample to decay .

A radioactive decay curve .

the actual number of atoms that decay continually decreases  Comparing the ratio of parent to daughter yields the age of the sample .Using radioactivity in dating ► Radiometric ►Principle dating of radioactive dating  The percentage of radioactive atoms that decay during one half-life is always the same (50 percent)  However.

only fresh. unweathered rock samples should be used  Blocking Temperature – The temperature below which a crystal lattice traps radioactive daughter products.Using radioactivity in dating ► Radiometric ►Sources dating of error  A closed system is required  To avoid potential problems. .

Geochronology Mineral Zircon Garnet Rutile Muscovit e K-spar Biotite Hornblen de Syste Daughter Blocking T m ºC U-Pb 207. 206Pb 700-725 U-Pb 207. 206Pb >800 U-Pb 207. 206Pb 550-650 87 Rb-Sr Sr Rb-Sr Rb-Sr K-Ar Sr 87 Sr 40 Ar 87 300 480 .

7x109yrs) 208 Pb (half-life = 1.4x109yrs) 206 .5x109yrs) 207 Pb (half-life = 0.Geochronology ► Uranium-Lead Method (U-Pb)  Most reliable technique for rocks  Ages exceed 10 million years  Use of Zircons for dating U 235 U 232 Th 238 Pb (half-life = 4.

Uranium-Lead Method .

Uranium-Lead Method .

8x109yrs) 87 .Geochronology ► Robidium-Strontium (Rb-Sr)  Most applicable in rocks over 100 million years old  Whole-rock ages are more reliable in RbSr  No gaseous daughter elements  Principle source of error is later metamorphism and hydrothermal alteration. Rb 87 Sr + ß– (half-life = 48.

Geochronology ► Potassium-Argon (K-Ar)  Used for rocks around 1 million years old  Ar is a gas and can be easily released from most rocks  Biotite.480 ºC) Ca + ß– (half-life = 1. hornblende retain argon better than other minerals  Low blocking temperatures (300ºC .2x109yrs) 40 Ar 40 K 40 . muscovite.

or emplacement of structures .Geochronology ►Argon-Argon (40Ar-39Ar)  Samples must be irradiated to convert 39K to 39Ar  Can determine the cooling history of the rocks  Useful for determining the time of uplift. metamorphism.

Geochronology ► Samarium .Neodynium (Sm-Nd)  Used mainly for dating ocean floor basalts because sea water is abundant in Sr but depleted in Nd  Therefore. can be used to determine contamination by sea water and hydrothermal alteration Sm 147 Nd (half-life = 106x109yrs) 143 .

Rock Cycle .