Slip history of the La Cruz fault: Development of a late Miocene transformin response to increased rift obliquity in the northern Gulf of California

Tectonophysics
By: , and 

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Abstract

The Gulf of California rift has accommodated oblique divergence of the Pacific and North America plates in north-western México since Miocene time. Due to its infancy, its rifted margins preserve a rare onshore record of early continental break-up processes and an opportunity to investigate the role of rift obliquity in strain localization. We map rift-related structures and syn-tectonic basins on southern Isla Tiburón, a proximal onshore exposure of the rifted North America margin. We integrate analysis and geochronology of syn-tectonic sedimentary basins and mapping of crosscutting relationships to characterize the style and timing of fault activity. On southern Isla Tiburón, an early phase of extension initiated between~19–17 Ma and ~12.2Ma. Subsequently, these normal faults and related basins were cut by the La Cruz strike-slip fault and buried by deposits of the La Cruz basin, an elongate, fault-controlled trough coextensive with the La Cruz fault. Crosscutting relationships show that the NW-striking La Cruz fault accrued 5 ± 2 km of dextral slip ~8–4 Ma. The La Cruz fault and parallel Tiburón transform were kinematically linked to detachment faulting that accommodated latest Miocene to Pliocene oblique opening of the offshore Upper Tiburón pull-apart basin. The onset of strike-slip faulting on Isla Tiburón was synchronous with the ~8–6 Ma onset of transform faulting and basin formation along >1000 km of the reconstructed Pacific-NorthAmerica plate boundary. This transition coincides with the commencement of a clockwise azimuthal shift in Pacific-North America relative plate motion that increased the obliquity of the Gulf of California rift and formed the Gulf of California shear zone. The record from the proto-Gulf of California illustrates how highly oblique rift geometries, where transform faults are kinematically linked to pull-apart basins, enhance the ability of continental lithosphere to rupture and, ultimately, hasten the formation of new oceanic rift basins.

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Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Slip history of the La Cruz fault: Development of a late Miocene transformin response to increased rift obliquity in the northern Gulf of California
Series title Tectonophysics
DOI 10.1016/j.tecto.2016.06.013
Volume 693
Year Published 2018
Language English
Publisher Elsevier
Contributing office(s) Earthquake Science Center
Description 27 p.
First page 409
Last page 435
Country Mexico
Other Geospatial Gulf of California