Document Type


Publication Date



Cross-section balancing provides a useful tool for checking the potential viability of structural interpretations through complexly deformed terranes. Balanced cross sections contain structures that are similar to those observed in outcrop or on seismic profiles in the area, that can be restored to a realistic pre-deformational configuration of faults and undeformed strata where areas are preserved between the deformed and restored states, and whose development from the undeformed state can be described in a kinematically reasonable sequence. Quick-look inspection of cross sections greatly facilitates the balancing process by comparing corresponding hanging wall and footwall features (particularly focusing on ramps and flats) to identify areas in a cross section that may contain balancing issues. The well-known Boyer and Elliott (1982) cross section through the Mt. Crandell duplex in Waterton National Park in Alberta, Canada and its accompanying restoration have long served as a classic example of a balanced cross section. We carefully examined the section and its restoration using quick-look techniques, and noted several structures that had substantially changed their shape between the deformed and restored states, had ramp-flat mismatches between the hanging wall and footwall, and/or had significant area changes between the deformed and restored states. Using cross-section restoration software, we not only quantified differences between their deformed-state and restored-state cross sections, but we also rigorously restored their original section. Specifically, we identified differences where restored layer areas ranged from 18.3% to 186% of the areas of their deformed counterparts, with some layers missing or incomplete. In addition, the computerized restoration revealed multiple issues with ramp-flat geometries that produced substantial gaps and overlaps not reflected in the original restoration. Based on careful examination of these problematic areas, we are currently working on refining the Boyer and Elliott (1982) deformed-state cross section to address these issues.


Support for this research project provided by the DePauw Faculty Development Program, the Department of Geology & Environmental Geoscience, and the DePauw Growing Inclusive Excellence in STEM Program (supported by an HHMI Inclusive Excellence Grant).

Included in

Geology Commons



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.