A major seismic reflection transect, acquired by the British Geological Survey between 1984 and 1986, has elucidated the deep geology and structure of some well-known surface features of central England. The Worcester Basin, a Mesozoic extensional graben system, is bounded to west and east by major, sub-planar normal faults which formed by the extensional reactivation of much older structures; respectively the Malvern Axis and a similar though concealed structure forming its mirror image to the east. Within the Worcester Basin a thick Permo-Triassic sequence rests directly upon Precambrian basement rocks. To the west and east, Permo-Triassic rocks are thin or absent, but relatively thick Palaeozoic sequences are preserved above the Precambrian. These strikingly different successions, together with the fault geometry, suggest that the Worcester Basin lies within a major, inverted oblique-slip fault system or flower structure. In Palaeozoic times transpressivt stresses led to reverse faulting along the Malvern Axis and its complementary structure to the east with consequent regional uplift of the intervening tract and the formation of a positive flower structure. In Permian and early Mesozoic times, transtensional stresses caused collapse and negative inversion of the flower structure and consequent subsidence of the Worcester Basin.

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