Differentially heaving bedrock has caused severe damage near the Denver metropolitan area. This paper describes heave-feature morphologies, the underlying bedrock framework, and their inter-relationship. The heave features are linear to curvilinear and may attain heights of 0.7 m (2.4 ft), widths of 58 m (190 ft), and lengths of 1,067 m (3,500 ft). They are nearly symmetrical to highly asymmetrical in cross section, with width-to-height ratios of 45:1 to 400:1, and most are oriented parallel with the mountain front. The bedrock consists of Mesozoic sedimentary formations having dip angles of 30 degrees to vertical to overturned. Mixed claystone-siltstone bedding sequences up to 36-m (118-ft) thick are common in the heave-prone areas, and interbeds of bentonite, limestone, or sandstone may be present. Highly fractured zones of weathered to variably weathered claystone extend to depths of 19.5 to 22.3 m (64 to 73 ft). Fracture spacings are 0.1 to 0.2 m (0.3 to 0.7 ft) in the weathered and variably weathered bedrock and up to 0.75 m (2.5 ft) in the underlying, unweathered bedrock. Curvilinear shear planes in the weathered claystone show thrust or reverse offsets up to 1.2 m (3.9 ft). Three associations between heave-feature morphologies and the geological framework are recognized: (1) Linear, symmetrical to asymmetrical heaves are associated with primary bedding composition changes. (2) Linear, highly asymmetrical heaves are associated with shear planes along bedding. (3) Curvi-linear, highly asymmetrical heaves are associated with bedding-oblique shear planes.
Additional publication details
Steeply dipping heaving bedrock, Colorado: Part 1 - Heave features and physical geological framework