The elliptical and hyperbolic outcrop patterns characteristic of periclinal folds can be used to classify structures according to different curvature attributes. Elliptical patterns indicate domal-basinal structures with synclastic curvature, that is, principal curvatures of the same sign. Hyperbolic patterns are diagnostic of anticlastic curvature (saddle-like structures). Such outcrop geometries are geological examples of Dupin’s indicatrix, the geometrical figure obtained by sectioning a curved surface on a plane parallel and almost coincident with the tangent plane. The aspect ratio of Dupin’s indicatrix is theoretically related to the ratio of the principal curvature values for the part of the structure being considered. This new method allows quantitative assessment of structures on maps and on remote sensing images. Illustrations are given from Wyoming, USA, and Yorkshire, England.

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