‘Block and basin’ style rift basins: sedimentological insights from the Mississippian Fell Sandstone Formation

Louis P. Howell* (Corresponding Author), Charlotte Priddy, Andrew J. Mitten, Adam J. Jeffery, Stuart S. Egan, Graham Leslie, Ross P. Pettigrew, Stuart M. Clarke, Timothy I. Kearsey

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The block and basin tectonostratigraphic framework for the northern Pennine (rift) Basin, within which buoyant granite intrusions core intra-basin fault-bounded blocks, has long held traction. However, many of the elements of this framework are rooted in primitive tectonic models and, perhaps unsurprisingly, corresponding depositional models often reflect this. Using sedimentological and sedimentary provenance approaches, the synrift (Mississippian) fluvio-deltaic Fell Sandstone Formation and age-equivalent strata within the northern Pennine Basin are examined. Highlighted divergences from classically depicted models relate to occurrences of pre-Carboniferous basement domes or monoclines, which are unbounded by major vertically displacing (>100 m) fault systems. Such structures in the northern Pennine Basin are all granite-cored and their origins are associated with their buoyancy and flexural isostatic processes. One such basement dome, the Cheviot Block, confined and deflected the Fell Sandstone fluvio-deltaic system from the west, causing locally elevated net sand content and variations in the dominant palaeodrainage direction. Central parts of the Alston Block, which forms a regional monocline along an east–west axis, were comparatively uplifted because of flexural isostatic responses to granite intrusions. The findings presented are at variance not only with classically depicted depositional models for the region, but also with more general depictions of dominantly normal fault-driven rift basin systems.
Original languageEnglish
Article number jgs2021-083
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of the Geological Society
Issue number4
Early online date7 Feb 2022
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2022


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