Recent studies demonstrate that rifts are characterized by linked tilt domains, each containing a consistent polarity of normal faults and stratal tilt directions, and that the transition between domains is typically through formation of accommodation zones and generally not through production of throughgoing transfer faults. The mid-Miocene Black Mountains accommodation zone of southern Nevada and western Arizona is a well-exposed example of an accommodation zone linking two regionally extensive and opposing tilt domains. In the southeastern part of this zone near Kingman, Arizona, east dipping normal faults of the Whipple tilt domain and west dipping normal faults of the Lake Mead domain coalesce across a relatively narrow region characterized by a series of linked, extensional folds. The geometry of these folds in this strike-parallel portion of the accommodation zone is dictated by the geometry of the interdigitating normal faults of opposed polarity. Synclines formed where normal faults of opposite polarity face away from each other whereas anticlines formed where the opposed normal faults face each other. Opposed normal faults with small overlaps produced short folds with axial trends at significant angles to regional strike directions, whereas large fault overlaps produce elongate folds parallel to faults. Analysis of faults shows that the folds are purely extensional and result from east/northeast stretching and fault-related tilting. The structural geometry of this portion of the accommodation zone mirrors that of the Black Mountains accommodation zone more regionally, with both transverse and strike-parallel antithetic segments. Normal faults of both tilt domains lose displacement and terminate within the accommodation zone northwest of Kingman, Arizona. However, isotopic dating of growth sequences and crosscutting relationships show that the initiation of the two fault systems in this area was not entirely synchronous and that west dipping faults of the Lake Mead domain began to form between 1 m.y. to 0.2 m.y. prior to east dipping faults of the Whipple domain. The accommodation zone formed above an active and evolving magmatic center that, prior to rifting, produced intermediate-composition volcanic rocks and that, during rifting, produced voluminous rhyolite and basalt magmas. Copyright 2004 by the American Geophysical Union.
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Miocene extension and extensional folding in an anticlinal segment of the Black Mountains accommodation zone, Colorado River extensional corridor, southwestern United States