Skip to main content

Syncline and Anticline

Syncline and anticline

Syncline and anticline are terms used to describe folds based on the relative ages of folded rock layers. A syncline is a fold in which the youngest rocks occur in the core of a fold (i.e., closest to the fold axis), whereas the oldest rocks occur in the core of an anticline.

It is important to note that syncline and anticline do not necessarily relate to the shape or orientation of folded layers, although the origin of the words implies this. The term originates from the Greek word sun (xun), meaning together, and the Greek word klei, meaning to lean, so syncline implies leaning together or leaning towards. Ant is the Greek prefix meaning opposite or opposing, so the word anticline implies oppositely leaning. Beds dip towards the fold axis in a syncline and away from the fold axis in an anticline only when the folded layers were upright before folding (i.e., where younger layers overlaid older layers). Before describing folds, it is therefore necessary to establish the primary order in which layers were deposited. To do this, facing, younging, or way-up criteria are used. These are synonymous terms for primary sedimentary structures (e.g., graded or cross-bedding) or igneous structures (e.g., vesicles, pillows) preserved in the folded layers. Where the relative ages of rocks are not known (as is often the case in metamorphic rocks), the term synform and not syncline should be used to describe folds where layers are bent downwards so that they dip towards the fold axis, and antiform and not anticline should be used where beds are arched upwards so that layers dip away from the fold axis.

Where rock layers have been inverted prior to folding, such as by folding about a larger fold with a shallowly inclined axial surface, the oldest rocks now occur in the core of folds where layers dip towards the fold axis. Such folds are called synformal anticlines; synformal because of their shape and anticline because of the relative ages of folded layers. The youngest layers in an overturned sequence occur in the core of folds called antiformal synclines where layers dip away from the fold axis.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Syncline and Anticline." World of Earth Science. . Encyclopedia.com. 14 Nov. 2018 <https://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Syncline and Anticline." World of Earth Science. . Encyclopedia.com. (November 14, 2018). https://www.encyclopedia.com/science/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/syncline-and-anticline

"Syncline and Anticline." World of Earth Science. . Retrieved November 14, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: https://www.encyclopedia.com/science/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/syncline-and-anticline

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.