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Using basement-hosted clastic dykes as syn-rifting palaeostress indicators: an example from the basal Stoer Group, northwest Scotland

  • L. E. BEACOM (a1) (a2) (a3), T. B. ANDERSON (a1) and R. E. HOLDSWORTH (a2)


Clastic infills of fractures (here termed clastic veins) in basement rocks immediately underlying sedimentary cover sequences can be used to date fault movements if these demonstrably occurred at the time of infilling or prior to the lithification of the entrained clastic material. This allows reconstruction of the syn-rifting palaeostress system using stress inversion techniques. During Riphean intracontinential rifting of Laurentia, the Torridonian Stoer Group sediments of northwest Scotland were deposited in half-graben basins controlled by faults, e.g. the Coigach and Clachtoll faults. At Clachtoll, northeast–southwest oblique sinistral normal faulting in the underlying basement is associated with extensive development of shear, hybrid and tensile clastic veins filled with Stoer Group sediment, infilled and deformed prior to sediment lithification. Clastic veins initially formed by gravitational infilling of sediment from above, followed by tectonically-driven, forceful hydraulic injection of fluidized sand into new fractures and reactivated pre-existing basement faults. Palaeostress axes, determined from fault lineation data and tensile fracture extension directions in the Clachtoll Fault zone, indicate west-northwest–east-southeast directed extension during rifting. On a regional scale, this implies oblique-dextral extension on the north- to north-northeast-trending Coigach Fault during Stoer Group deposition. Similar orientations, age relationships and kinematics have been obtained from pre-Torridon Group fault arrays developed in the Lewisian basement near Gairloch and Loch Maree. Overall, the faulting patterns reflect a three-dimensional strain (k≠1) formed by east-southeast–west-northwest-directed extension during deposition of the Stoer Group. More speculatitively, asymmetric density patterns of sinistral and dextral faults may indicate that rifting occurred in a regional zone of broadly north–south-oriented dextral transtension.


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Geological Magazine
  • ISSN: 0016-7568
  • EISSN: 1469-5081
  • URL: /core/journals/geological-magazine
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