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Magnitude and timing of extreme continental extension, the central Death Valley region, California



Magnitude and timing of extreme continental extension, the central Death Valley region, California



Abstracts with Programs - Geological Society of America 29(6): 381



New geochronologic, stratigraphic, and sedimentologic data indicate extreme late Cenozoic extension across the central Death Valley region. Ar 40/39 geochronology of sanidine from tuffs intercalated with steeply tilted sediments along the eastern margin of the region, including sections near Chicago Pass and at Eagle Mountain, indicate deposition from ca. 15-11.7 Ma. Clasts of marble, orthoquartzite, fusilinid limestone, and leucogabbro are prominent at both locations. The only known source in the Death Valley region for this clast assemblage is in the southern Cottonwood Mountains, over 100 km away on the opposite flank of the Death Valley region. U/Pb geochronology of baddeleyite confirms that leucogabbro clasts from both sections have the same igneous crystallization age (ca. 180 Ma) as the leucogabbroic phase of the Hunter Mountain batholith, in the southern Cottonwood Mountains. The sediments include debris flows, flood deposits, and monolithic boulder beds of large leucogabbro clasts (>1 m), suggesting deposition in an alluvial fan setting. Sedimentary transport of these deposits is unlikely to have exceeded 20 km. Restoration of the Eagle Mountain and Chicago Valley deposits to a position just east of the southern Cottonwood Mountains results in approximate net translations of 80 km and 104 km, respectively, at an azimuth of N67W. This suggests overall extension magnitudes of at least 500% across the Death Valley region since 12 Ma, with strain rates that approached 10exp(-14)/s during maximum extension. These results support previous reconstructions based on isopachs and Mesozoic structural features (e.g. Wernicke et. al., 1988, GSA Bulletin).

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Accession: 019361419

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