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Durham University

Department of Geography

Staff Profile

Publication details for Professor Alexander Densmore

Densmore, A. L., Dawers, N. H., Gupta, S. & Guidon, R. What sets topographic relief in extensional footwalls? Geology. 2005;33:453-456.

Author(s) from Durham


We use three large normal fault arrays in the northeastern Basin and Range Province, western United States, to document catchment development and relief production during fault growth. Fault slip and slip rates increase systematically along strike from zero at the fault tips. Catchment relief and across-strike range width both increase as slip accumulates but reach maximum values at a distance of 15 km from the fault tips and remain uniform along strike over much of the footwalls. Catchment outlet spacing also increases away from the fault tips but does not reach a uniform value and may vary by a factor of 5–6 along strike. We infer that catchments first elongate in the across-strike direction as slip accumulates and the range half-width increases. Once the half-width reaches its maximum value, continued catchment growth is possible only by along-strike capture, which increases outlet spacing but not relief. The close correspondence between catchment relief and range half-width suggests that geomorphically limited hillslope and channel gradients are achieved within the 15 km tip zone. Thus, the limiting factor in footwall development is the width of the range, which is controlled by two external agents: the geometry and spacing of the major faults, and the elevations of base level on both flanks


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