Trough (geology)

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Satellite image of the Cayman Trough Cayman Trough.jpg
Satellite image of the Cayman Trough
Bathymetric features of the Rockall Trough northwest of Scotland and Ireland Rockall Trough.jpg
Bathymetric features of the Rockall Trough northwest of Scotland and Ireland

In geology, a trough is a linear structural depression that extends laterally over a distance. Although it is less steep than a trench, a trough can be a narrow basin or a geologic rift. These features often form at the rim of tectonic plates.


There are various oceanic troughs on the ocean floors.

Examples of oceanic troughs

See also

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Ross Sea Deep bay of the Southern Ocean in Antarctica

The Ross Sea is a deep bay of the Southern Ocean in Antarctica, between Victoria Land and Marie Byrd Land and within the Ross Embayment, and is the southernmost sea on Earth. It derives its name from the British explorer James Ross who visited this area in 1841. To the west of the sea lies Ross Island and Victoria Land, to the east Roosevelt Island and Edward VII Peninsula in Marie Byrd Land, while the southernmost part is covered by the Ross Ice Shelf, and is about 200 miles (320 km) from the South Pole. Its boundaries and area have been defined by the New Zealand National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research as having an area of 637,000 square kilometres (246,000 sq mi).

Niger Delta Basin (geology)

The Niger Delta Basin, also referred to as the Niger Delta province, is an extensional rift basin located in the Niger Delta and the Gulf of Guinea on the passive continental margin near the western coast of Nigeria with suspected or proven access to Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea and São Tomé and Príncipe. This basin is very complex, and it carries high economic value as it contains a very productive petroleum system. The Niger delta basin is one of the largest subaerial basins in Africa. It has a subaerial area of about 75,000 km2, a total area of 300,000 km2, and a sediment fill of 500,000 km3. The sediment fill has a depth between 9–12 km. It is composed of several different geologic formations that indicate how this basin could have formed, as well as the regional and large scale tectonics of the area. The Niger Delta Basin is an extensional basin surrounded by many other basins in the area that all formed from similar processes. The Niger Delta Basin lies in the south westernmost part of a larger tectonic structure, the Benue Trough. The other side of the basin is bounded by the Cameroon Volcanic Line and the transform passive continental margin.

Rift Geological linear zone where the lithosphere is being pulled apart

In geology, a rift is a linear zone where the lithosphere is being pulled apart and is an example of extensional tectonics.

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Depression (geology) Landform sunken or depressed below the surrounding area

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Back-arc basin Submarine features associated with island arcs and subduction zones

Back-arc basins are atype of geologic basin, found at some convergent plate boundaries. Presently all back-arc basins are submarine features associated with island arcs and subduction zones, with many found in the western Pacific Ocean. Most of them result from tensional forces, caused by a process known as oceanic trench rollback, where a subduction zone moves towards the subducting plate. Back-arc basins were initially an unexpected phenomenon in plate tectonics, as convergent boundaries were expected to universally be zones of compression. Further study revealed how they are consistent with this model, and the smaller scale systems which drive it.

Rockall Basin Bathymetric feature northwest of Scotland and Ireland

The Rockall Trough is a deep-water bathymetric feature to the northwest of Scotland and Ireland, running roughly from southwest to northeast, flanked on the north by the Rockall Plateau and to the south by the Porcupine Seabight. At the northern end, the channel is bounded by the Wyville-Thomson Ridge, named after Charles Wyville Thomson, professor of zoology at the University of Edinburgh and driving force behind the Challenger Expedition. At the southern end, the trough opens into the Porcupine abyssal plain. The Rockall Basin is a large sedimentary basin that lies beneath the trough. Both are named after Rockall, a rocky islet lying 301.4 km west of St Kilda.

Midcontinent Rift System Geological rift in the center of the North American continent

The Midcontinent Rift System (MRS) or Keweenawan Rift is a 2,000 km (1,200 mi) long geological rift in the center of the North American continent and south-central part of the North American plate. It formed when the continent's core, the North American craton, began to split apart during the Mesoproterozoic era of the Precambrian, about 1.1 billion years ago. The rift failed, leaving behind thick layers of igneous rock that are exposed in its northern reaches, but buried beneath later sedimentary formations along most of its western and eastern arms. Those arms meet at Lake Superior, which is contained within the rift valley. The lake's north shore in Ontario and Minnesota defines the northern arc of the rift. From the lake, the rift's eastern arm trends south to central lower Michigan, and possibly into Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Alabama. The western arm runs from Lake Superior southwest through portions of Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, and Nebraska to northeastern Kansas, and possibly into Oklahoma.

Geology of the Iberian Peninsula Origins, structure use and study of the rock formations of Spain, Portugal, Andorra and Gibraltar

The geology of the Iberian Peninsula consists of the study of the rock formations on the Iberian Peninsula, which includes Spain, Portugal, Andorra, and Gibraltar. The peninsula contains rocks from every geological period from the Ediacaran to the Quaternary, and many types of rock are represented. World-class mineral deposits are also found there.

Red Sea Rift Oceanic rift between the African and Arabian Plates

The Red Sea Rift is a spreading center between two tectonic plates, the African Plate and the Arabian Plate. It extends from the Dead Sea Transform fault system, and ends at an intersection with the Aden Ridge and the East African Rift, forming the Afar Triple Junction in the Afar Depression of the Horn of Africa. It is in Egypt.

Masaaki Kimura is a Japanese geologist and a professor emeritus from the Faculty of Science of the University of the Ryukyus, Okinawa, Japan.

The Timor Trough is an oceanic trough that is a continuation of the Sunda Trench that marks the boundary between the Indo-Australian Plate and the Timor Plate. It is separated from the Sunda Trench by a sag near Sumba Island at the Scott Plateau and the North Australian Basin, and on the other end becomes the Tanimbar Trough southeast of the Tanimbar Islands, continuing on to the Aru Trough east of the Kai Islands near the Bird's Head Peninsula on New Guinea. Lining the north of the trough are numerous islands, of which Timor is the largest. Further west are the Weber Basin and the Banda Trench. Oil and natural gas have been found in the Bonaparte Basin south of the trough and the region is geologically active with numerous earthquakes.

Geologically the Australian state of New South Wales consists of seven main regions: Lachlan Fold Belt, the Hunter-Bowen Orogeny or New England Orogen (NEO), the Delamerian Orogeny, the Clarence Moreton Basin, the Great Artesian Basin, the Sydney Basin, and the Murray Basin.

Benue Trough Major geological structure underlying a large part of Nigeria

The Benue Trough is a major geological structure underlying a large part of Nigeria and extending about 1,000 km northeast from the Bight of Benin to Lake Chad. It is part of the broader West and Central African Rift System.

The Elsinore Trough is a graben rift valley in Riverside County, southern California. It is created by the Elsinore Fault Zone.

Persian Gulf Basin

The Persian Gulf Basin, is found between the Eurasian and the Arabian Plate. The Persian Gulf is described as a shallow marginal sea of the Indian Ocean that is located between the south western side of Iran and the Arabian Peninsula and south and southeastern side of Oman and the United Arab Emirates. Other countries that border the Persian Gulf basin include; Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain and Iraq. The Persian Gulf extends a distance of 1,000 km (620 mi) with an area of 240,000 km2 (93,000 sq mi). The Persian Gulf basin is a wedge-shaped foreland basin which lies beneath the western Zagros thrust and was created as a result of the collision between the Arabian and Eurasian plates.

Adare Basin

The Adare Basin is a geologic structural basin located north-east of Cape Adare of Antarctica, for which its named, and north of the western Ross Sea. The Adare Basin is an extensional rift basin located along a seafloor spreading center that forms the failed arm of the Tertiary spreading ridge separating East and West Antarctica, known as the West Antarctic Rift System and similar in structure to the East Africa Rift System. Centrally located in the Adare Basin is the Adare Trough. The extension of this rift system is recorded in a series of magnetic anomalies which run along the seafloor at the extinct, north–south trending, Adare spreading axis. The Adare spreading system continues unbroken into the Northern Basin underlying the adjacent Ross Sea continental shelf.

Angola Basin

The Angola Basin is located along the West African South Atlantic Margin which extends from Cameroon to Angola. It is characterized as a passive margin that began spreading in the south and then continued upwards throughout the basin. This basin formed during the initial breakup of the supercontinent Pangaea during the early Cretaceous, creating the Atlantic Ocean and causing the formation of the Angola, Cape, and Argentine basins. It is often separated into two units: the Lower Congo Basin, which lies in the northern region and the Kwanza Basin which is in the southern part of the Angola margin. The Angola Basin is famous for its "Aptian Salt Basins," a thick layer of evaporites that has influenced topography of the basin since its deposition and acts as an important petroleum reservoir.

Geology of Sudan

The geology of Sudan formed primarily in the Precambrian, as igneous and metamorphic crystalline basement rock. Ancient terranes and inliers were intruded with granites, granitoids as well as volcanic rocks. Units of all types were deformed, reactivated, intruded and metamorphosed during the Proterozoic Pan-African orogeny. Dramatic sheet flow erosion prevented almost any sedimentary rocks from forming during the Paleozoic and Mesozoic. From the Mesozoic into the Cenozoic the formation of the Red Sea depression and complex faulting led to massive sediment deposition in some locations and regional volcanism. Sudan has petroleum, chromite, salt, gold, limestone and other natural resources.

The geology of Ukraine is the regional study of rocks, minerals, tectonics, natural resources and groundwater in the country. The oldest rocks in the region are part of the Ukrainian Shield and formed more than 2.5 billion years ago in the Archean eon of the Precambrian. Extensive tectonic evolution and numerous orogeny mountain building events fractured the crust into numerous block, horsts, grabens and depressions and Ukraine was intermittently flooded as the crust downwarped during much of the Paleozoic, Mesozoic and early Cenozoic, before the formation of the Alps and Carpathians defined much of its current topography and tectonics. Ukraine was impacted by the Pleistocene glaciations within the last several hundred thousand years. The country has numerous metal deposits as well as minerals, building stone and high-quality industrial sands.


  1. Einsele, Gerhard (2000). Sedimentary Basins: Evolution, Facies, and Sediment Budget (2nd ed.). Springer. p. 630. ISBN   978-3-540-66193-1.
  2. Dinwiddie, Robert et al. (2008) Ocean: The World's Last Wilderness Revealed, London, Dorling Kindersley, page 452.
  3. "Chapter II (Geology of Timor-Leste)". Atlas of mineral resources of the ESCAP region Volume 17 Geology and Mineral Resources of Timor-Leste (PDF). United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific. 24 December 2003. Archived from the original (PDF) on 20 May 2005.