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Dynamic versus flexural controls of Late Cretaceous Western Interior Basin, USA

Liu, Shaofeng and Nummedal, Dag and Gurnis, Michael (2014) Dynamic versus flexural controls of Late Cretaceous Western Interior Basin, USA. Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 389 . pp. 221-229. ISSN 0012-821X. doi:10.1016/j.epsl.2014.01.006.

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The United States Cretaceous Western Interior Basin has long been considered a foreland basin, driven by the Sevier thrust and associated basin sediment loads. However, flexural studies demonstrate that this effect exists only within a narrow band in front of the thrust belt. Most of the basin appears to be due to mantle flow-induced dynamic subsidence associated with Farallon plate subduction. Here we show how the components of evolving long-wavelength dynamic subsidence and flexural subsidence created the accommodation space and controlled the stratigraphy across the western United States, based on a correlated stratigraphic section across central Utah and Colorado. These backstripped subsidence data reveal the dynamic-topography driven nature of the Western Interior Basin. The results seem to support that the depocenters track the trough of dynamic subsidence with ca. 18 Myr cycles through time and space and the stratigraphic patterns of large-scale progradation, eastward migration of depocenter, and regional clinoform-like downlap are related with the dynamic subsidence. Interpretation of these data also provides more insights into the repeated, ca. 2 to 6 Myr cycles of thrust-induced subsidence in front of the thrust belt, which control the local eastward progradation of the sand bodies from the thrust belt. The dynamic, flexural subsidence and eustatic sea level changes interacted and controlled the timing and distribution of unconformities. Our work shows how the stratigraphy precisely records the timing, patterns and position of dynamic versus flexural subsidences, and that combination of such data leads to important geophysical discoveries and supplies strict constraints for geodynamic modeling.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription
Liu, Shaofeng0000-0002-6667-3721
Gurnis, Michael0000-0003-1704-597X
Additional Information:© 2014 Elsevier B.V. Received 30 August 2013. Received in revised form 3 January 2014. Accepted 6 January 2014. Available online 25 January 2014. Editor: T.M. Harrison. We gratefully acknowledge informative discussions with Prof. Ronald Steel. The work was funded by Chinese Natural Science Foundation grants (Nos. 41030318, 91114203), Specialized Research Fund for the Doctoral Program of Higher Education (No. 20130022110002), Colorado Energy Research Institute at Colorado School of Mines. A visiting associate for the senior author at California Institute of Technology was supported by China Scholarship Council and Seismological Lab and Tectonic Observatory (Caltech).
Group:Seismological Laboratory
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Chinese Natural Science Foundation41030318
Chinese Natural Science Foundation91114203
Specialized Research Fund for the Doctoral Program of Higher Education20130022110002
Colorado School of Mines Colorado Energy Research InstituteUNSPECIFIED
China Scholarship CouncilUNSPECIFIED
Caltech Seismological Lab and Tectonic ObservatoryUNSPECIFIED
Subject Keywords:dynamic subsidence; flexure subsidence; Farallon plate subduction; Western Interior Basin; Late Cretaceous stratigraphy
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20140401-092316734
Persistent URL:
Official Citation:Shaofeng Liu, Dag Nummedal, Michael Gurnis, Dynamic versus flexural controls of Late Cretaceous Western Interior Basin, USA, Earth and Planetary Science Letters, Volume 389, 1 March 2014, Pages 221-229, ISSN 0012-821X, (
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:44564
Deposited By: Ruth Sustaita
Deposited On:01 Apr 2014 17:13
Last Modified:10 Nov 2021 16:53

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