Video encyclopedia

Basin and range topography


Great Basin Basin and Range Formation


Field Note: Basin and Range at Bishop, CA


Historical Geology: Cenozoic, basin and range


DAY 770: Basin and Range


Basin & Range Mountain Formation

Basin and range topography is an alternating landscape of parallel mountain ranges and valleys. It is a result of crustal extension/stretching of the lithosphere due to mantle upwelling, gravitational collapse, crustal thickening, or relaxation of confining stresses. Crustal extension causes the thinning and deformation of the upper crust in an orientation perpendicular to the direction of extension. As the plates pull apart, they thin allowing the hot mantle to rise close to the surface. When the crust is extended it fractures along a fault plane, creating a series of long parallel normal faults. Between these normal faults are blocks, which subside, get uplifted or tilted. This is known as block faulting. Basins are formed due to subsidence of a block, while the blocks adjacent to the subsidence gets uplifted creating ranges. Normal faults are on both sides the blocks; creating alternating elevated or subsided blocks, otherwise known as horst and graben. Basins and ranges can also be formed by blocks that are tilted causing one side to subside while the other side gets uplifted. These only have one side with a normal fault, this is known as tilted block faulting. Extension causes the plate to stretch, fracture and thin. Mountains rise and valleys drop, over a long period of time creating what we see as basin and range topography.
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    • Types of faulting 

    • Mapping extension 

    • Examples