Basin inversion by distributed deformation: The southern margin of the Bristol Channel Basin, England

R. A. Glen*, P. L. Hancock, A. Whittaker

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Citations (Scopus)


Several models of basin inversion described in the literature are tested in a study of Triassic and Early Jurassic strata exposed along the southern margin of the Bristol Channel Basin in Somerset, England that has been exhumed by <3 km. Two key features of the superbly exposed normal faults are that they formed at several times during basin evolution-not during Triassic to Early Jurassic growth, but during Late Jurassic rifting, and during and after inversion; and that >95% of them are still in net extension, despite widespread kinematic evidence for reverse reactivation. When coupled with the general absence of thin-skinned thrusts and the widespread occurrence of regional contractional folds, it appears that none of three main inversion models-the fault-reactivation model, the thin-skinned model and the buttress model-are by themselves applicable. We erect a new model of basin inversion, the distributed deformation model, which consists of three stages of basin inversion. Stage one involved early partial reactivation of large-displacement steep normal faults. Stage two was dominated by folding, wherein fault blocks underwent oblique (non-coaxial) shortening by map scale folding, accompanied by formation of outer arc normal faults, minor cleavage and neoformed thrusts. Stage three involved reverse reactivation of outer arc normal faults and activation of oblique and strike-slip faults that partitioned deformation into compartments.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2113-2134
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Structural Geology
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2005
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

A corrigendum exists for this article in the Journal of Structural Geology, vol. 28, issue 3, pp. 566-567. DOI: 10.1016/j.jsg.2006.02.001


  • basin inversion
  • Bristol Channel Basin
  • distributed deformation
  • extensional faulting
  • folding


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