(1) The formation of structures of the earth’s crust as a result of slow sliding caused by gravity of masses of rock down the slopes of massive tectonic uplifts. The initial processes that cause gravitational tectogenesis are vertical movements of the earth’s crust, which lead to the formation of uplifts and downwarps. Sliding downward, bedded sedimentary strata are crushed together and crumple into folds the rocks lying at the foot of the growing uplifts.
(2) Any movements of material inside the earth’s crust under the force of gravity, including the flotation of relatively light rock from beneath heavy rock masses. The latter process in particular leads to the formation of diapiric folds. Many scientists suggest that the shifting of matter within the earth under the influence of gravity is the cause of all tectonic deformations.
E. M. RUDICH