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The upper crust laid on its side: tectonic implications of steeply tilted crustal slabs for extension in the basin and range

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Abstract

Tilted slabs expose as much as the top 8–15 km of the upper crust in many parts of the Basin and Range province. Exposures of now-recumbent crustal sections in these slabs allow analysis of pre-tilt depth variations in dike swarms, plutons, and thermal history. Before tilting the slabs were panels between moderately dipping, active Tertiary normal faults. The slabs and their bounding normal faults were tilted to piggyback positions on deeper footwalls that warped up isostatically beneath them during tectonic unloading. Stratal dips within the slabs are commonly tilted to vertical or even slightly overturned, especially in the southern Basin and Range where the thin stratified cover overlies similarly tilted basement granite and gneiss. Some homoclinal recumbent slabs of basement rock display faults that splay upward into forced folds in overlying cover sequences, which thereby exhibit shallower dips. The 15-km maximum exposed paleodepth for the slabs represents the base of the brittle upper crust, as it coincides with the depth of the modern base of the seismogenic zone and the maximum focal depths of large normal-fault earthquakes in the Basin and Range. Many upended slabs accompany metamorphic core complexes, but not all core complexes have corresponding thick recumbent hanging-wall slabs. The Ruby Mountains core complex, for example, preserves only scraps of upper-plate rocks as domed-up extensional klippen, and most of the thick crustal section that originally overlay the uplifted metamorphic core now must reside below little-tilted hanging-wall blocks in the Elko-Carlin area to the west. The Whipple and Catalina Mountains core complexes in contrast are footwall to large recumbent hanging-wall slabs of basement rock exposing 8-15 km paleodepths that originally roofed the metamorphic cores; the exposed paleodepths require that a footwall rolled up beneath the slabs.

Additional publication details

Publication type Book
Publication Subtype Conference publication
Title The upper crust laid on its side: tectonic implications of steeply tilted crustal slabs for extension in the basin and range
Year Published 2005
Language English
Publisher Geological Society of America
Publisher location New York, NT
Description 1 p.
Larger Work Type Article
Larger Work Subtype Journal Article
Larger Work Title Abstracts with Programs
Conference Title 2005 Salt Lake City Annual Meeting
Conference Location Salt Lake City, NV
Conference Date 2005-10-16T00:00:00