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Last updated date: 23rd May 2024
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Footwall Meaning

The deposits of minerals have different  shapes, which depend on how they were deposited. The most common shape of mineral deposition is mostly the tabular form. The mineral deposit in the form of a filling is mostly situated in layers of rock that are parallelly placed. The orientation of this ore body is to be marked by its dip (this is the angle which it makes with the horizontal structure) and this strike (the position which it takes in regard to the four points of the compass). The Rock that is lying above the ore body is known as the hanging wall and the rock which is lying below the ore body is called the footwall.  

Analysis of Footwall Morphology

Under the U.S Geological Survey National Elevation Dataset that is elevation data, we will analyze footwall morphology along each fault, with a horizon of 30 m resolution. The data is very much coarse and have particularly the accurate delineation of the catchments draining of the Stone Creek and Sweetwater footwalls. Higher‐resolution (that is 10 m) data is utilized only as a part of the study area, hence we use the same 30 m data to make comparison results from all the different kinds of footwalls. For each of these faults, we need to extract the footwall catchments which is >0.05 km2 in area and the drain across the map that is traced is the active fault (the darker shaded areas). 

In the first attempt at quantifying the footwall morphology, we are required to calculate the simplest possible measures of these catchments that is their area, relief, and their mean slope.

To assess further along with the strike variations in footwall relief, we need to project the extracted footwall catchments which are onto a fault parallel to the profile. At each of the positions along the profile we then calculate the maximum, mean, and minimum elevations in the fault‐normal direction. The footwall relief at each point is the difference between the maximum elevations and minimum elevations. This method is quite sensitive to the small‐scale variations in which the plan‐view catchment shape is not the true measure of an individual catchment which has relief because of the catchments that got widened away from the fault. In these places, the swath is not exact to the fault parallel. However, this method allows us to derive a continuous type footwall relief profile and then eliminate the issues that are inherent in the arbitrary selection along with the striking profile. As a check, we also need to calculate the relief in the individual catchments as a function of the outlet position along strike; and the overall patterns and length scales that are very much similar to those which are derived from this profiling method.

For the suspect that relief in these tectonically active footwalls may be strengthened the limited, implying a relationship between the topographic slope and the relief, we also are required to calculate the average catchment slopes within these extracted regions. 

We then determine the mean topographic slope for each of the catchments, using the slope values which are measured over a 3 × 3 cell (90 × 90 m) size window. The slope will be estimated using the 30 m resolution digital elevation model which will significantly underestimate the true meter‐scale that the slope values, while these estimates and will provide a useful means to compare the slopes which are averaged over the scale of individual hillslopes, that is present along the strike and between the different footwalls.

Catchment Patterns

For both that is the Stone Creek and the Sweetwater faults, there are cuts across a smooth and low‐relief surface which developed on the Archean gneiss. It is being tilted to the southeast by Miocene which is faulting of the Ruby Range block. These faults define the small range fronts which are quite steep and is linear near the fault and the strike centers and they become more diffused and difficult to separate from the inherited topography that is on the Ruby Range block near the fault tips. Both these footwalls represent asymmetric map‐view catchment patterns where the smallest catchments may occur near the fault strike center, which we need to infer the displacement maxima. The Catchment areas also increase and progressively advance towards the fault tips. The location of the smallest catchments near this strike center is close to the inferred displacement maximum, which is somewhat counterintuitive. Everything being the same, higher displacements near these faults in the midpoint should also lead to higher rates of footwall incision, and therefore larger the structure, the more widely spaced catchments will be. Both the footwalls are then composed only with Archean gneiss. This is done so that lithology swill is not a significant control on the catchment size.

The Blacktail and the Red Rock footwalls also show a greater variation in the along‐strike distribution of catchment areas which is single‐segmented. The largest catchments, which are the Beaver head River and the Blacktail Deer Creek located in the Blacktail footwall and the Big Sheep and Little Sheep Creeks which is located in the Red Rock footwall, are the antecedent to these faults’ structures. They are based on their regional extent and their continuity across several footwall blocks. The catchments which are being developed in response to this fault displacement have no distinct pattern that emerges. We are required to interpret this as to take due action in part of the fault tip propagation into these areas of significant and pre-faulting topography system. 

FAQs on Footwall

1. What is the Difference Between a Footwall and a Hanging Wall?

Ans. When the rocks slip past the other rock, the upper or the overlying block which is along the fault plane is called the hanging wall. This is also known as the headwall. While the block below this is called the footwall. The fault is the strike in the direction of the line of the intersection occurring between the fault plane and the Earth's surface.

2. What is a Footwall Block?

Ans. The Footwall block is the block that is under the feet of a person who is standing in a tunnel or on the fault plane. This hanging wall block is then hung overhead. The upthrown side of the fault is on the side of the movement which has been up to their relative to the other side.

3. What is a Dip-slip?

Ans. A Dip-slip fault is that which has inclined fractures and where the blocks are mostly shifted vertically. While the rock mass is above an inclined fault it gradually moves down, the fault that is termed normal, while if the rock above this fault moves up, this fault is termed as the reverse. The thrust fault is such a reverse fault with a dip that is 45 degrees or less than that.