Introduction: the deformation of continental crust and Mike Coward’s impact on its understanding
Published:January 01, 2007
R. W. H. Butler, R. H. Graham, A. C. Ries, 2007. "Introduction: the deformation of continental crust and Mike Coward’s impact on its understanding", Deformation of the Continental Crust: The Legacy of Mike Coward, A. C. Ries, R. W. H. Butler, R. H. Graham
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Understanding geological structure and structural evolution requires imagination, and the ability to see simple patterns in complex data and make the simplicity evident. It requires the transfer of insight and approach from one area of discipline (geographical or scientific) to another. To Mike Coward it was second nature to do these things, and he stood out as one of the most innovative structural geologists of recent years. He was a great exponent of what is currently referred to as ‘up-scaling’: understanding the significance of small-scale, local observations and datasets then using them to elucidate geological evolution on a crustal scale.
This introductory paper is a brief review of some key themes in the study of the deformation of the continental crust, and how Coward influenced them. It focuses particularly on thinking in structural geology during the past 50 years or so, but does not cover such topics as seismicity, geodetic data or microstructural approaches in deformation studies. The emphasis is on the importance of understanding medium- to large-scale structural geometry. This was Mike Coward’s forté, for it emphasizes the key role of field geology. The discipline of field mapping is a great aid in the interpretation of 3D relationships in seismic data volumes. It is no coincidence that this account begins in the field but leads into seismic data. It is a journey followed not only by Mike Coward but also by many of the authors contributing to this volume.
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Deformation of the Continental Crust: The Legacy of Mike Coward
This Special Publication, in memory and celebration of the work of Professor Mike Coward, is about the deformation of the continental lithosphere. The collected papers discuss geometry, structural principles, processes and problems in a wide range of tectonic settings and thereby reflect the breadth of Coward's interests. They encompass the evolution of Precambrian basement gneiss terrains, the geometry and evolution of thrust systems, basement involvement and structural inheritance in basins, syn-orogenic extension, salt tectonics, the implication of structural evolution on hydrocarbon prospectivity and structural controls on mineralization. Examples are drawn from the Lewisian and Moine Thrust Belt of NW Scotland, the Italian Apennines, NW Himalayas, the Cyclades, Oman, Zagros Mountains, Colombian Cordillera, Carpathians, North Sea, offshore Brazil, regional studies of the Irumide Belt (central Africa), Taurus Mountains (Turkey), greater South America, and from the Witwatersrand Basin of South Africa and the Antler Orogeny of SW USA.