Abstract Balanced cross-section techniques, and the construction of a restored section, permit 2-dimensional palinspastic restorations to be made in both compressional and extensional terraines. In 3 dimensions, an equivalent restoration can be made by assuming conservation of bedding-plane area and considering the volume of a stratigraphic interval rather than its cross-sectional area. Extensional basins displaying upper crustal listric normal faulting are particularly amenable to this approach. Computerised 3-D restorations have been made of the Inner Moray Firth basin, offshore Scotland. This basin is not isostatically compensated, and was produced by 7–8% post-Triassic extension, of which 2.5–3% is post-Jurassic, above a detachment surface at 20–25 km depth, close to the base of the crust. Limited lower crustal thinning (and lithospheric stretching) has affected the eastern part of the basin, but this can account for no more than half of the measured upper crustal extension. Some of this shallow extension is probably coupled by low-angle faults or shear zones into major zones of lithospheric stretching such as the North Sea grabens, where it may help account for discrepancies between estimates of lithospheric thinning and upper crustal extension.