Horst (geology)

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In physical geography and geology, a horst is a raised fault block bounded by normal faults.[1] A horst is a raised block of the Earth's crust that has lifted, or has remained stationary, while the land on either side (graben) has subsided.[2] The word Horst in Dutch and German means heap – cognate with English "hurst".

The Vosges Mountains in France and Black Forest in Germany are examples of horsts, as are the Table, Jura and the Dole mountains. The word also applies to larger areas, such as the Russian Plain, Arabia, India and Central South Africa, where the continent remains stable, with horizontal table-land stratification, in distinction to folded regions such as some mountain chains of Eurasia.[2]

The Midcontinent Rift System in North America is marked by a series of horsts extending from Lake Superior to Kansas.[3]


Horsts may have either symmetrical or asymmetrical cross-sections. If the normal faults to either side have similar geometry and are moving at the same rate, the horst is likely to be symmetrical and roughly flat on top. If the faults on either side have different rates of vertical motion, the top of the horst will most likely be inclined and the entire profile will be asymmetrical. Erosion also plays a significant role in how symmetrical a horst appears in cross-section.

Horsts and hydrocarbon exploration[edit]

In many rift basins around the world, the vast majority of discovered hydrocarbons are found in conventional traps associated with horsts.[citation needed] For example, much of the petroleum found in the Sirte Basin, Libya (of the order of tens of billions of barrels of reserves) are found on large horst blocks such as the Zelten Platform and the Dahra Platform and on smaller horsts such as the Gialo High and the Bu-Attifel Ridge.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Fossen H. (2010-07-15). Structural Geology. Cambridge University Press. p. 154. ISBN 9781139488617.
  2. ^ a b Public Domain One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Horst". Encyclopædia Britannica. 13 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 740.
  3. ^ United States Geological Survey (1989). "Clastic Rocks Associated with the Midcontinent Rift System in Iowa" (PDF). U.S. GEOLOGICAL SURVEY BULLETIN 1989–I: 11. Retrieved Sep 3, 2018.

External links[edit]

  • The dictionary definition of horst at Wiktionary