Water escape structures are abundant in the Grønnes Formation, a tectonically undeformed, late Precambrian shallow marine sandstone deposit in North Norway.
Trough cross-bedded sandstones of the current-dominated shallow marine environment were frequently liquefied, presumably due to recurring seismic shocks. Subsequent dewatering resulted in deformation of the cross-bedding and the formation of convolute lamination. A three-fold upward vertical sequence developed where liquefaction occurred below the sediment-water interface: convoluted bed → passively deformed bed → undeformed bed. The passively deformed bed resulted from differential subsidence of a relatively plastic bed above a liquefied bed. It is characterized by anticlinal ridges and sand volcanoes at the sites of vertical sediment extrusion, and synclinal troughs at the sites of lateral sediment movement.
Liquefaction may have been induced by either tectonic (earthquake shocks) or non-tectonic (storm-induced microseisms) trigger mechanisms, or a combination of both. The restriction of such a high frequency of water escape structures to deposits immediately above a gentle regional unconformity lends support for a tectonic trigger mechanism.