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Structural discordance between neogene detachments and frontal Sevier thrusts, central Mormon Mountains, southern Nevada

Wernicke, Brian and Walker, J. Douglas and Beaufait, Mark S. (1985) Structural discordance between neogene detachments and frontal Sevier thrusts, central Mormon Mountains, southern Nevada. Tectonics, 4 (2). pp. 213-246. ISSN 0278-7407. doi:10.1029/TC004i002p00213.

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Detailed geologic mapping in the Mormon Mountains of southern Nevada provides significant insight into processes of extensional tectonics developed within older compressional orogens. A newly discovered, WSW-directed low-angle normal fault, the Mormon Peak detachment, juxtaposes the highest levels of the frontal most part of the east-vergent, Mesozoic Sevier thrust belt with autochthonous crystalline basement. Palinspastic analysis suggests that the detachment initially dipped 20–25° to the west and cut discordantly across thrust faults. Nearly complete lateral removal of the hanging wall from the area has exposed a 5 km thick longitudinal cross-section through the thrust belt in the footwall, while highly attenuated remnants of the hanging wall (nowhere more than a few hundred meters thick) structurally veneer the range. The present arched configuration of the detachment resulted in part from progressive “domino-style” rotation of a few degrees while it was active, but is largely due to rotation on younger, structurally lower, basement-penetrating normal faults that initiated at high-angle. The geometry and kinematics of normal faulting in the Mormon Mountains suggest that pre-existing thrust planes are not required for the initiation of low-angle normal faults, and even where closely overlapped by extensional tectonism, need not function as a primary control of detachment geometry. Caution must thus be exercised in interpreting low-angle normal faults of uncertain tectonic heritage such as those seen in the COCORP west-central Utah and BIRP's MOIST deep-reflection profiles. Although thrust fault reactivation has reasonably been shown to be the origin of a very few low-angle normal faults, our results indicate that it may not be as fundamental a component of orogenic architecture as it is now widely perceived to be. We conclude that while in many instances thrust fault reactivation may be both a plausible and attractive hypothesis, it may never be assumed.

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Wernicke, Brian0000-0002-7659-8358
Additional Information:© 1985 by the American Geophysical Union. Paper number 4T0792. Received May 10, 1984; accepted May 22, 1984. The authors acknowledge support from NSF grants EAR 7713637 awarded to B.C. Burchfiel, EAR 7926346 awarded to B.C. Burchfiel and P. Molnar, and EAR 8319767 awarded to B. Wernicke.
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Issue or Number:2
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20140718-103530197
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Official Citation:Wernicke, B., J. D. Walker, and M. S. Beaufait (1985), Structural discordance between neogene detachments and frontal sevier thrusts, central Mormon Mountains, southern Nevada, Tectonics, 4(2), 213–246, doi:10.1029/TC004i002p00213
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:47324
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:18 Jul 2014 19:27
Last Modified:10 Nov 2021 17:38

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