The Cheshire Basin is a late-Palaeozoic and Mesozoic sedimentary basin extending under most of Cheshire. It extends northwards into the Lancashire and south into Shropshire. The basin possesses something of the character of a half-graben as its deepest extent is along its eastern and southeastern margins, where it is well-defined by a series of sub-parallel faults, most important of which is the Red Rock Fault. These faults divide the basin from the older Carboniferous rocks of the Peak District and the North Staffordshire Coalfield.
In terms of its architecture, the basin is sometimes considered to be divided into two sub-basins: the more southerly Wem-Audlem Sub-basin and the Sandbach-Knutsford Sub-basin to its northeast.
The basin fill is mainly Permian and Triassic sandstones and mudstones, but it also incorporates economically important halite beds. The sequences referred to the Sherwood Sandstone Group and the overlying Mercia Mudstone Group are the thickest in England. An isolated outlier of Jurassic rocks occurs within the basin at Prees in north Shropshire.
The basin is just one part of a wider complex of basins that include the Worcester Graben, the Stafford Basin and the East Irish Sea Basin, the development of each of which began while the crust of this region was experiencing east-west tension during the Permian period. It is traversed by a series of largely north-south aligned normal faults, some of which help to define the Mid Cheshire Ridge and Alderley Edge, two upstanding areas within the Cheshire Plain.
- British Geological Survey 1:50K map sheets 97,98, 108-111, 122,123
- Plant et al (eds) 1999, The Cheshire Basin: basin evolution, fluid movement and mineral resources in a Permo-Triassic rift setting, British Geological Survey