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Late Neogene deformation of the Chocolate Mountains Anticlinorium: Implications for deposition of the Bouse Formation and early evolution of the Lower Colorado River

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Abstract

Deformation related to late Neogene dextral shear can explain a shift from an estuarine to lacustrine depositional environment in the southern Bouse Formation north of Yuma, Arizona. We infer that late Neogene deformation in the Chocolate Mountain Anticlinorium (CMA) created a barrier that blocked an estuary inlet, and that pre-existing and possibly active structures subsequently controlled the local course of the lower Colorado River. Structural patterns summarized below suggest that the CMA absorbed transpressional strain caused by left-stepping segments of dextral faults of the San Andreas fault system and/or the eastern California shear zone and Gulf of California shear zone. For this hypothesis to be correct, about 200-250 m of post-6 Ma, pre- ~5.3 Ma uplift along the CMA crest would be required to cut off a marine inlet. The 220-km-long CMA, cored by the early Paleogene Orocopia Schist subduction complex, extends from the Orocopia Mountains (Calif.) southeastward through the Chocolate Mountains (parallel to the southern San Andreas fault). Where Highway 78 crosses the Chocolate Mountains (Fig. 1), the CMA turns eastward through the Black Mountain-Picacho area (Calif.) and Trigo Mountains (Ariz.) into southwest Arizona. It separates southernmost Bouse Formation outcrops of the Blythe basin from subsurface Bouse outcrops to the south in the Yuma area. South of Blythe basin the CMA is transected by the lower Colorado River along a circuitous path.

Here we focus on the geology of an area between the central Chocolate Mountains and the Yuma Proving Grounds in Arizona. Specific landmarks include the southeast Chocolate Mountains, Midway Mountains, Peter Kane Mountain, Black Mountain, Picacho Peak, and Gavilan Hills. For simplicity, we refer to this as the eastern Chocolate Mountains.

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Additional publication details

Publication type Conference Paper
Publication Subtype Conference Paper
Title Late Neogene deformation of the Chocolate Mountains Anticlinorium: Implications for deposition of the Bouse Formation and early evolution of the Lower Colorado River
Year Published 2016
Language English
Contributing office(s) Geology, Minerals, Energy, and Geophysics Science Center
Description 9 p.
Larger Work Type Conference Paper
Larger Work Subtype Conference Paper
Larger Work Title Proceedings for the 2016 Desert Symposium
First page 176
Last page 184
Conference Title 30th Annual Desert Symposium
Conference Location Zzyzx, CA
Conference Date April 15-16, 2016
Country Mexico, United States