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Geologic map of the east-central Meadow Valley Mountains, and implications for reconstruction of the Mormon Peak detachment, Nevada

Swanson, E. and Wernicke, B. P. (2017) Geologic map of the east-central Meadow Valley Mountains, and implications for reconstruction of the Mormon Peak detachment, Nevada. Geosphere, 13 (4). pp. 1234-1253. ISSN 1553-040X. doi:10.1130/GES01148.1.

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The role of low-angle faults in accommodating extension within the upper crust remains controversial because the existence of these faults markedly defies extant continuum theories of how crustal faults form, and once initiated, how they continue to slip. Accordingly, for many proposed examples, basic kinematic problems like slip direction, dip angle while active, and magnitude of offset are keenly debated. A well-known example is the Miocene Mormon Peak detachment and overlying Mormon Peak allochthon of southern Nevada (USA), whose origin and evolution have been debated for several decades. Here, we use geologic mapping in the Meadow Valley Mountains to help define the geometry and kinematics of emplacement of the Mormon Peak allochthon, the hanging wall of the Mormon Peak detachment. Pre-exten­sion structural markers, inherited from the east-vergent Sevier thrust belt of Meso­zoic age, are well suited to constrain the geometry and kine­matics of the detachment. In this study, we add to these markers a newly mapped Sevier-­age monoclinal flexure preserved in the hanging wall of the detachment. The bounding axial surfaces of the flexure can be readily matched to the base and top of the frontal Sevier thrust ramp, which is exposed in the footwall of the detachment to the east in the Mormon Mountains and Tule Springs Hills. Multiple proxies for the slip direction of the detachment, including the mean tilt direction of hanging wall fault blocks, the trend of striations measured on the fault plane, and other structural features, indicate that it is approximately S77°W (257°). Given the observed structural separation lines between the hanging wall and footwall, this slip direction indicates 12–13 km of horizontal displacement on the detachment (14–15 km net slip), lower than a previous estimate of 20–22 km, which was based on erroneous assumptions in regard to the geometry of the thrust system. Based on a new detailed map compilation of the region and recently published low-temperature thermochronologic data, palinspastic constraints also preclude earlier suggestions that the Mormon Peak allochthon is a composite of diachronously emplaced, surficial landslide deposits. Although earlier suggestions that the initiation angle of the detachment in the central Mormon Mountains is ∼ 20°–25° remain valid, the geometry of the Sevier-age monocline in the Meadow Valley Mountains and other structural data suggest that the initial dip of the detachment steepens toward the north beneath the southernmost Clover Mountains, where the hanging wall includes kilometer-scale accumulations of volcanic and volcaniclastic strata.

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Wernicke, B. P.0000-0002-7659-8358
Additional Information:© 2017 Geological Society of America. CC-licensed. Received 1 October 2014; Revision received 30 November 2016; Accepted 5 April 2017. This research was supported by NSF Grant EAR-1250565 awarded to B. Wernicke and J. Eiler, and by the Caltech Tectonics Observatory of the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.
Group:Caltech Tectonics Observatory
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Caltech Tectonics ObservatoryUNSPECIFIED
Gordon and Betty Moore FoundationUNSPECIFIED
Issue or Number:4
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20170530-075528473
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Official Citation:E. Swanson, B.P. Wernicke; Geologic map of the east-central Meadow Valley Mountains, and implications for reconstruction of the Mormon Peak detachment, Nevada. Geosphere ; 13 (4): 1234–1253. doi:
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:77818
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:05 Jun 2017 20:24
Last Modified:15 Nov 2021 17:34

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