We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. You can change your cookie settings at any time. Otherwise, we'll assume you're OK to continue.

Durham University

Department of Geography

Staff Profile

Publication details for Professor Alexander Densmore

Allen, P. A. & Densmore, A. L. Sediment flux from an uplifting fault block. Basin Research. 2000;12:367-380.

Author(s) from Durham


The stratigraphy of rift basins is a direct result of sediment liberation and transport through catchment–fan systems whose dynamics are controlled by both external and internal factors. We investigate the response of catchment–fan systems established across an active normal fault to variations in both tectonic and climatic boundary conditions. Numerical experiments show that the ratio of fan area to catchment area provides a sensitive indicator of tectonic activity. A step decrease in fault slip rate results in a delayed response by the catchment–fan systems; the response time is ∼50 kyr for a variety of parameter values. Decreased slip rate also gives rise to an abrupt but transient pulse in sediment discharge from the fans due to a drop in the hangingwall subsidence rate. In contrast, variations in climatic activity, using precipitation rate as a proxy, produce extremely rapid responses throughout the catchment–fan system. Thus, high-frequency climatic changes will overprint lower frequency tectonic variations in the stratigraphic record of fan deposits. Finally, we map out possible combinations of fault geometry, fault slip rate and precipitation rate that allow fan progradation and high rates of sediment discharge from the system.