A fault is a break in Earth’s crust where the broken blocks of rock move with respect to one another. This movement normally generates earthquakes. The amount of movement is the fault displacement. Faults are classified based on their relative movement. In normal faults, the hanging wall moves down relative to the footwall. The Sangre de Cristo fault in the San Luis Valley is a normal fault with nearly four miles of displacement. In a reverse fault, the hanging wall moves up relative to the footwall. A thrust fault, such as the Williams Range fault bounding the west side of the Front Range, is a special case of a reverse fault where the dip of the fault plane is thirty degrees or less.

Normal fault located about 12 miles west of Trinidad.

Block diagrams of normal (left), reverse, and thrust faults (right)

Fault block diagrams showing relative movement of the footwall block (FB) and the hanging-wall block (HB) in a normal, reverse and thrust fault (from left to right).

Block diagram showing Horst (below) and graben (above).

Horsts and grabens are blocks bounded by normal faults. In a graben, the block has dropped down along two, inward-dipping normal faults. In a horst the block has moved up along two outward-dipping normal faults. Horsts and grabens can be quite large, such as the San Luis Valley (graben) and the Sangre de Cristo Range (horst).

Graben located along the east flank of the Paradox Valley anticline.

The graben above is in the Paradox basin.

Horst along Highway 550 N. of Durango.

The horst above is located along Highway 550 north of Durango.