Gravitational reactivation of a pre-existing post-Caledonian fault system: the deep-seated gravitational slope deformation at Middagstinden, western Norway
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionNorsk Geologisk Tidsskrift 2016, 96(3) 10.17850/njg96-3-03
The origin of linear features in mountain terrain that form distinct vertical steps is generally not obvious and has been discussed to be related to either tectonic faulting or gravitational slope deformation. A strong geomorphological lineament running oblique to the slope and forming a convex step in the topography is located on the mountain Middagstinden just west of the valley Innfjorddalen, western Norway. In previous studies this lineament has been interpreted to be the surface expression of a Holocene reverse fault previously called the Berill Fault, indicating the first evidence for neotectonic faulting in southern Norway. Now, detailed structural field mapping has revealed the existence of a set of normal fault planes striking subparallel to this lineament and to the main extensional faults associated with the Caledonian collapse. Electric resistivity tomography (ERT) profiles of the valley floor and excavated parallel trenches confirm the regional extent of the fault, but the sediments observed in the trenches do not indicate any Holocene activity. Furthermore, the lineament is a limiting structure of a large rock-slope instability. Kinematic feasibility tests based on structural field measurements indicate wedge failure along the intersection of the fault and the local foliation. However, this intersection line is not exposed on the slope surface. Hence, simple wedge or translational sliding along the slope is not feasible, except in its uppermost part. Both the displacements observed by differential global navigation satellite system (dGNSS) surveys and the geomorphological characteristics, for instance, counterscarps, superficial mass movements, coherent slide blocks and slope bulging, indicate complex deformation mechanisms. The deformation evidently changed along the slope in type and degree including planar sliding in the uppermost part, potentially large wedge sliding in the middle part, and incremental internal deformation in a direction out of the slope in the lower part. The complex kinematics and geomorphological characteristics account for the definition of a deep-seated gravitational slope deformation (DSGSD). Furthermore, the findings reveal that the geomorphological lineament is of gravitational origin and not neotectonic. It has formed by a reactivation of the pre-existing, Caledonian, normal fault system due to the DSGSD, and is hence an example of pseudotectonics ('apparent reverse fault').