New 40Ar/39Ar dates on volcanic rocks interlayered with synextensional Miocene sedimentary rocks in the western Lake Mead area and southern end of the Las Vegas Range provide tight constraints on magmatism, basin formation, and extensional deformation in the Basin and Range province of southern Nevada. Vertical axis rotations associated with movement along the Las Vegas Valley shear zone occurred after 15.67??0.10 Ma (2??), based on a 40Ar/39Ar date from a tuff in the Gass Peak formation in the southern Las Vegas Range. Basaltic magmatism in the western Lake Mead area began as early as 13.28??0.09 Ma, based on a date from a basalt flow in the Lovell Wash Member of the Horse Spring Formation. Isotopic dating of a basalt from the volcanic rocks of Callville Mesa indicates that these rocks are as old as 11.41??0.14 Ma, suggesting that volcanic activity began shortly after formation of the Boulder basin, the extensional basin in which the informally named red sandstone unit was deposited. The red sandstone unit is at least as old as 11.70??0.08 Ma and contains megabreccia deposits younger than 12.93??0.10 Ma. This results shows that formation of the Boulder basin was associated with development of topographic relief that was probably generated by movement along the Saddle Island low-angle normal fault. Stratal tilting associated with extension occurred both prior to and after 11.5 Ma.
Additional publication details
New 40Ar/39Ar isotopic dates from Miocene volcanic rocks in the Lake Mead area and southern Las Vegas Range, Nevada