Two areas of probable holocene deformation in southwestern Utah




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Recent geologic studies in southwestern Utah indicate two areas of probable Holocene ground deformation. 1. (1)A narrow arm of Lake Bonneville is known to have extended southward into Escalante Valley as far as Lund, Utah. Remnants of weakly developed shoreline features, which we have recently found, suggest that Lake Bonnevile covered an area of about 800 km2 beyond its previously recognized limits near Lund. Shoreline elevations show a gradual increase from 1553 m near Lund to 1584 m at a point 50 km further southwest, representing a reversal of the pattern that would result from isostatic rebound. The conspicuously flat floor of Escalante Valley covers an additional 100 km2 southward toward Enterprise, where its elevation is greater than 1610 m, but no shoreline features are recognizable; therefore, the former presence of the lake is only suspected. The measured 31-m rise over 50 km and the suspected 57-m rise in elevation over 70 km apparently occurred after Lake Bonnevile abandoned this area. The abandonment could have occurred as recently as 13,000 years ago, in which case the uplift is mainly of Holocene age. It probably has a deep-seated tectonic origin because it is situated above an inferred 9-km upwarp of the mantle that has been reported beneath the southern part of Escalante Valley on the basis of teleseismic P-wave residuals. 2. (2)Numerous closed topographic basins, ranging from a few hundred square meters to 1 km2 in area, are found at various elevations along the west margin of the Colorado Plateau northeast of Cedar City. Geologic mapping in that area indicates that the basins are located over complex structural depressions in which the rocks are faulted and folded. Several of the depressions are perched along the walls of the West Fork of Braffits Creek, one of a few north-draining creeks that have incised deeply into the plateau margin. Extremely active modern erosion by the creek has produced a 6-km-long gorge along which excellent exposures provide good evidence that the topographic depressions, as well as the entire valley, are located over a north-trending structural graben in which rocks of Cretaceous, Tertiary, and Quaternary age are complexly deformed. The trough appears to be actively subsiding, as evidenced by inward-dipping youthful scarps and V-shaped trenches found along both walls of the valley. The scarp on the east side is continuous for 1.5 km, and that on the west is discontinuous for the same distance. Charcoal-bearing alluvium from a sequence of faulted sedimentary debris in the inner gorge has yielded discordant dates by the 14C technique, but the dates suggest that at least 6 m of fault displacement occurred during the Late Holocene. ?? 1979.

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Two areas of probable holocene deformation in southwestern Utah
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