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Tectonic control on southern Sierra Nevada topography, California

Mahéo, Gweltaz and Saleeby, Jason and Saleeby, Zorka and Farley, Kenneth A. (2009) Tectonic control on southern Sierra Nevada topography, California. Tectonics, 28 (6). Art. No. TC6006. ISSN 0278-7407.

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In this study we integrate the apatite (U-Th)/He thermochronometric technique with geomorphic, structural, and stratigraphic studies to pursue the origin and evolution of topographic relief related to extensive late Cenozoic faulting in the southern Sierra Nevada. The geomorphology of this region reflects a transition from a vast region to the north characterized by nonequilibrium fluvial modification of a relict low-relief landscape, little affected by internal deformation, to a more complex landscape affected by numerous faults. Regionally, the relict landscape surface is readily resolved by age-elevation relationships of apatite He ages coupled to geomorphology. These relationships can be extended into the study area and used as a structural datum for the resolution of fault offsets and related tilting. On the basis of 63 new apatite He ages and stratigraphic data from proximal parts of the San Joaquin basin we resolve two sets of normal faults oriented approximately N–S and approximately NW. Quaternary west-side-up normal faulting along the N–S Breckenridge–Kern Canyon zone has resulted in a southwest step over from the Owens Valley system in the controlling structure on the regional west tilt of Sierran basement. This zone has also served as a transfer structure partitioning Neogene-Quaternary extension resulting from normal displacements on the NW fault set. This fault system for the most part nucleated along Late Cretaceous structures with late Cenozoic remobilization representing passive extension by oblate flattening as the region rose and stretched in response to the passage of a slab window and the ensuing delamination of the mantle lithosphere from beneath the region.

Item Type:Article
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Farley, Kenneth A.0000-0002-7846-7546
Additional Information:© 2009 American Geophysical Union. Received 11 June 2008; accepted 13 August 2009; published 5 December 2009. This research was supported by NSF grants EAR-0230383 and EAR-0606903 and funds from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation. We thank Elisabeth Nadin, Marin Clark, and Janice Gillespie for helpful discussions and assistance in the field and Lindsey Hedges for analytical assistance. Helpful reviews by George Hilley and John Wakabayashi are gratefully acknowledged. G. Maheo benefited from the Lavoisier Post-Doctoral Fellowship. Caltech Tectonics Observatory contribution 85.
Group:Caltech Tectonics Observatory
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Gordon and Betty Moore FoundationUNSPECIFIED
Subject Keywords:Sierra Nevada; thermochronology; faulting
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Other Numbering System NameOther Numbering System ID
Caltech Tectonics Observatory85
Issue or Number:6
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20100104-152739521
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Official Citation:Mahéo, G., J. Saleeby, Z. Saleeby, and K. A. Farley (2009), Tectonic control on southern Sierra Nevada topography, California, Tectonics, 28, TC6006, doi:10.1029/2008TC002340.
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:17054
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:06 Jan 2010 17:37
Last Modified:03 Mar 2020 13:01

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