This Diagram depicts some of the differences between Asymmetrical, Symmetrical, and OVERTURNED folds. Credit: W. H. Freeman and Company

A wave-like geologic structure that forms when rocks deform by bending instead of breaking under compressional stress. Anticlines are arch-shaped folds in which rock layers are upwardly convex. The oldest rock layers form the core of the fold, and outward from the core progressively younger rocks occur.

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A syncline is the opposite type of fold, having downwardly convex layers with young rocks in the core. Folds typically occur in anticline-syncline pairs. The hinge is the point of maximum curvature in a fold. The limbs occur on either side of the fold hinge. The imaginary surface bisecting the limbs of the fold is called the axial surface. The axial surface is called the axial plane in cases where the fold is symmetrical and the lines containing the points of maximum curvature of the folded layers, or hinge lines, are coplanar.





In structural geology, an anticline is a type of fold that is an arch-like shape and has its oldest beds at its core. A typical anticline is convex up in which the hinge or crest is the location where the curvature is greatest, and the limbs are the sides of the fold that dip away from the hinge. Anticlines can be recognized and differentiated from antiforms by a sequence of rock layers that become progressively older toward the center of the fold. Therefore, if age relationships between various rock strata are unknown, the term antiform should be used.

The progressing age of the rock strata towards the core and uplifted center, are the trademark indications for evidence of Anticlines on a geologic map. These formations occur because Anticlinal ridges typically develop above thrust faults during crustal deformations. The uplifted core of the fold causes compression of strata that preferentially erodes to a deeper stratigraphic level relative to the topographically lower flanks. Motion along the fault including both shortening and extension of tectonic plates, usually also deforms strata near the fault. This can result in an asymmetrical or overturned fold.

Terminology of anticlines

An Antiform can be used to describe any fold that is convex up. It is the relative ages of the rock strata that separate anticlines from antiforms. The hinge of an anticline refers to the location where the curvature is greatest, also called the crest. The hinge is also the highest point on a stratum along the top of the fold. The culmination also refers to the highest point along any geologic structure. The limbs are the sides of the fold that display less curvature.

The inflection point is the area on the limbs where the curvature changes direction. The axial surface is an imaginary plane connecting the hinge of each layer of rock stratum through the cross sectional anticline. If the axial surface is vertical and the angles on each side of the fold are equivalent, then the anticline is symmetrical. If the axial plane is tilted or offset then the anticline is asymmetrical. An anticline that is cylindrical has a well-defined axial surface, whereas non-cylindrical anticlines are too complex to have a single axial plane.

Formation processes

Anticlines are usually developed above thrust faults, so any small compression and motion within the inner crust can have large effects on the upper rock stratum. Stresses developed during mountain building or during other tectonic processes can similarly warp or bend bedding and foliation (or other planar features). The more the underlying fault is tectonically uplifted, the more the strata will be deformed and must adapt to new shapes. The shape formed will also be very dependent on the properties and cohesion of the different types of rock within each layer.

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During the formation of flexural-slip folds, the different rock layers form parallel-slip folds to accommodate for buckling. A good way to visualize how the multiple layers are manipulated, is to bend a deck of cards and to imagine each card as a layer of rock stratum. The amount of slip on each side of the anticline increases from the hinge to the inflection point.

Passive-flow folds form when the rock is so soft that it behaves like weak plastic and slowly flows. In this process different parts of the rock body move at different rates causing shear stress to gradually shift from layer to layer.iii There is no mechanical contrast between layers in this type of fold. Passive-flow folds are extremely dependent on the rock stratums makeup and can typically occur in areas with high temperatures