Suture (geology)
In structural geology
Structural geology
Structural geology is the study of the three-dimensional distribution of rock units with respect to their deformational histories. The primary goal of structural geology is to use measurements of present-day rock geometries to uncover information about the history of deformation in the rocks, and...

, a suture is a major fault zone through an orogen or mountain range. Sutures separate terrane
A terrane in geology is short-hand term for a tectonostratigraphic terrane, which is a fragment of crustal material formed on, or broken off from, one tectonic plate and accreted or "sutured" to crust lying on another plate...

s, tectonic
Tectonics is a field of study within geology concerned generally with the structures within the lithosphere of the Earth and particularly with the forces and movements that have operated in a region to create these structures.Tectonics is concerned with the orogenies and tectonic development of...

 units that have different plate tectonic
Plate tectonics
Plate tectonics is a scientific theory that describes the large scale motions of Earth's lithosphere...

, metamorphic
Metamorphism is the solid-state recrystallization of pre-existing rocks due to changes in physical and chemical conditions, primarily heat, pressure, and the introduction of chemically active fluids. Mineralogical, chemical and crystallographic changes can occur during this process...

 and paleogeographic histories. The term is borrowed from surgery
Surgery is an ancient medical specialty that uses operative manual and instrumental techniques on a patient to investigate and/or treat a pathological condition such as disease or injury, or to help improve bodily function or appearance.An act of performing surgery may be called a surgical...

 where it describes the sewing together of two pieces of tissue.


In plate tectonics, sutures are seen as the remains of subduction zones, and the terranes that constitute them are interpreted as fragments of different palaeocontinents or tectonic plates.

An outcrop is a visible exposure of bedrock or ancient superficial deposits on the surface of the Earth. -Features:Outcrops do not cover the majority of the Earth's land surface because in most places the bedrock or superficial deposits are covered by a mantle of soil and vegetation and cannot be...

ping sutures can vary in width from a few hundred meters to a couple of kilometers. They can be networks of mylonitic
Mylonite is a fine-grained, compact rock produced by dynamic recrystallization of the constituent minerals resulting in a reduction of the grain size of the rock. It is classified as a metamorphic rock...

 shear zone
Shear zone
A shear zone is a very important structural discontinuity surface in the Earth's crust and upper mantle. It forms as a response to inhomogeneous deformation partitioning strain into planar or curviplanar high-strain zones. Intervening blocks stay relatively unaffected by the deformation...

s or brittle
A material is brittle if, when subjected to stress, it breaks without significant deformation . Brittle materials absorb relatively little energy prior to fracture, even those of high strength. Breaking is often accompanied by a snapping sound. Brittle materials include most ceramics and glasses ...

 fault zones, but usually both. Sutures are usually associated with igneous intrusion
An intrusion is liquid rock that forms under Earth's surface. Magma from under the surface is slowly pushed up from deep within the earth into any cracks or spaces it can find, sometimes pushing existing country rock out of the way, a process that can take millions of years. As the rock slowly...

s and tectonic lenses
Lens (geology)
In geology a lens is a body of ore or rock or a deposit that is thick in the middle and thin at the edges, resembling a convex lens in cross-section. Adjective: "lenticular"....

 of all kinds of lithologies
The lithology of a rock unit is a description of its physical characteristics visible at outcrop, in hand or core samples or with low magnification microscopy, such as colour, texture, grain size, or composition. It may be either a detailed description of these characteristics or be a summary of...

 from plutonic rocks to ophiolitic fragments.

An example from Great Britain
Great Britain
Great Britain or Britain is an island situated to the northwest of Continental Europe. It is the ninth largest island in the world, and the largest European island, as well as the largest of the British Isles...

 is the Iapetus Suture
Iapetus Suture
The Iapetus Suture is one of several major geological faults caused by the collision of several ancient land masses forming a suture. It represents in part the remains of what was once the Iapetus Ocean. Iapetus was the father of Atlas in Greek mythology, making his an appropriate name for what...

 which, though now concealed beneath younger rocks, has been determined by geophysical
Geophysics is the physics of the Earth and its environment in space; also the study of the Earth using quantitative physical methods. The term geophysics sometimes refers only to the geological applications: Earth's shape; its gravitational and magnetic fields; its internal structure and...

 means to run along a line roughly parallel with the English-Scottish border and represents the join between the former continent of Laurentia
Laurentia is a large area of continental craton, which forms the ancient geological core of the North American continent...

 to the north and the former micro-continent of Avalonia
Avalonia was a microcontinent in the Paleozoic era. Crustal fragments of this former microcontinent underlie south-west Great Britain, and the eastern coast of North America. It is the source of many of the older rocks of Western Europe, Atlantic Canada, and parts of the coastal United States...

 to the south. It is in fact a plane
-Physical objects:* Aeroplane or airplane, a fixed-wing aircraft* Plane , a woodworking tool to smooth surfaces* Platanus, a genus of trees with the common name "plane"* Acer pseudoplatanus, a tree species sometimes called "plane"...

 which dips steeply northwestwards through the crust.

Paleontological use

When used in paleontology
Paleontology "old, ancient", ὄν, ὀντ- "being, creature", and λόγος "speech, thought") is the study of prehistoric life. It includes the study of fossils to determine organisms' evolution and interactions with each other and their environments...

, suture can also refer to fossil exoskeletons, as in the suture line, a division on a trilobite
Trilobites are a well-known fossil group of extinct marine arthropods that form the class Trilobita. The first appearance of trilobites in the fossil record defines the base of the Atdabanian stage of the Early Cambrian period , and they flourished throughout the lower Paleozoic era before...

 between the free cheek and the fixed cheek; this suture line allowed the trilobite to perform ecdysis
Ecdysis is the moulting of the cuticula in many invertebrates. This process of moulting is the defining feature of the clade Ecdysozoa, comprising the arthropods, nematodes, velvet worms, horsehair worms, rotifers, tardigrades and Cephalorhyncha...

(the shedding of its skin).
The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.