News Release

Current issue articles for Geosphere posted online in January

Peer-Reviewed Publication

Geological Society of America

Boulder, Colo., USA: GSA's dynamic online journal, Geosphere, posts articles online regularly. Topics for articles posted for Geosphere this month include feldspar recycling in Yosemite National Park; the Ragged Mountain Fault, Alaska; the Khao Khwang Fold and Thrust Belt, Thailand; the northern Sierra Nevada; and the Queen Charlotte Fault.

Feldspar recycling across magma mush bodies during the voluminous Half Dome and Cathedral Peak stages of the Tuolumne intrusive complex, Yosemite National Park, California, USA
Louis F. Oppenheim; Valbone Memeti; Calvin G. Barnes; Melissa Chambers; Joachim Krause ...

Abstract: Incremental pluton growth can produce sheeted complexes with no magma-magma interaction or large, dynamic magma bodies communicating via crystal and melt exchanges, depending on pulse size and frequency of intrusions. Determining the degree and spatial extent of crystal-melt exchange along and away from plutonic contacts at or near the emplacement level, such as in the large, long-lived Tuolumne intrusive complex (TIC) in California, sheds light onto the process and evolution of incremental growth. This study used field mapping and petrographic and geochemical analysis of plagioclase and K-feldspar populations in the equigranular Half Dome (eHD), porphyritic Half Dome (pHD), and Cathedral Peak (CP) Granodiorites of the southeastern section of the TIC to determine the presence and/or extent of feldspar recycling at interunit contacts. Our results suggest that contacts between major units are predominantly ~400-m- to 3-km-thick gradational zones. K-feldspar is compositionally distinct in eHD and neighboring gradational zones and shows no evidence of mixing. K-feldspar in a gradational zone between pHD and CP shows evidence of mixing between the two. Plagioclase in eHD and CP display distinct ranges of anorthite content, Sr, and light rare earth element abundances; both populations are observed in pHD. Major oxide and trace element calculations of melts in equilibrium with plagioclase cores indicate that the melts were more silicic, less calcic, and lower in Sr and Rb than corresponding analyzed whole-rock samples. These results suggest that the magmas also underwent plagioclase and biotite accumulation. The presence of two plagioclase populations in pHD is consistent with eHD and CP hybridizing to form pHD in an increasingly maturing and exchanging TIC magmatic system during the eHD-pHD-CP stages but before groundmass and small K-feldspar phenocrysts crystallized.

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Development of surface ruptures by hanging-wall extension over a thrust ramp along the Ragged Mountain fault, Katalla, Alaska, USA: Applications of high-resolution three-dimensional terrain models
Sarah N. Heinlein; Terry L. Pavlis; Ronald L. Bruhn

Abstract: High-resolution three-dimensional terrain models are used to evaluate the Ragged Mountain fault kinematics (Katalla, Alaska, USA). Previous studies have produced contradictory interpretations of the fault's kinematics because surface ruptures along the fault are primarily steeply dipping, uphill-facing normal fault scarps. In this paper, we evaluate the hypothesis that these uphill-facing scarps represent extension above a buried thrust ramp. Detailed geomorphic mapping along the fault, using 20-cm-resolution aerial imagery draped onto a 1-m-resolution lidar (light detection and ranging) elevation model, was used to produce multiple topographic profiles. These profiles illustrate scarp geometries and prominent convex-upward topographic surfaces, indicating significant disturbance by active tectonics. A theoretical model is developed for fault-parallel flow over a thrust ramp that shows the geometric relationships between thrust displacement, upper-plate extension, and ramp dip. An important prediction of the model for this study is that the magnitude of upper-plate extension is comparable to, or greater than, the thrust displacement for ramps with dips greater than ~45°. This model is used to analyze profile shapes and surface displacements in Move software (Midland Valley Ltd.). Analyses of scarp heights allow estimates of hanging-wall extension, which we then use to estimate slip on the underlying thrust via the model. Assuming a low-angle (30°) uniformly dipping thrust and simple longitudinal extension via normal faulting, variations in extension along the fault would require a slip gradient from ~8 m in the north to ~22 m in the south. However, the same north-south variation in extension with a constant slip of 8-10 m may infer an increase in fault dip from ~30° in the north to ~60° in the south. This model prediction has broader implications for active-fault studies. Because the model quantifies relationships between hanging-wall extension, fault slip, and fault dip, it is possible to invert for fault slip in blind thrust ramps where hanging-wall extension is the primary surface manifestation. This study, together with results from the St. Elias Erosion and Tectonics Project (STEEP), clarifies the role of the Ragged Mountain fault as a contractional structure within a broadly sinistral shear system in the western syntaxis of the St. Elias orogeny.

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Development of an intra-carbonate detachment during thrusting: The variable influence of pressure solution on deformation style, Khao Khwang Fold and Thrust Belt, Thailand
C.K. Morley; S. Jitmahantakul; C. von Hagke; J. Warren; F. Linares

Abstract: Classic detachment zones in fold and thrust belts are generally defined by a weak lithology (typically salt or shale), often accompanied by high over-pressures. This study describes an atypical detachment that occurs entirely within a relatively strong Permian carbonate lithology, deformed during the Triassic Indosinian orogeny in Thailand under late diagenetic-anchimetamorphic conditions. The key differences between stratigraphic members that led to development of a detachment zone are bedding spacing and clay content. The lower, older, unit is the Khao Yai Member (KYM), which is a dark-gray to black, well-bedded, clay-rich limestone. The upper unit, the Na Phra Lan Member (NPM), comprises more massive, medium- to light-gray, commonly recrystallized limestones and marble. The KYM displays much tighter to even isoclinal, shorter-wavelength folds than the NPM. Pressure solution played a dominant role throughout the structural development--first forming early diagenetic bedding; later tectonic pressure solution preferentially followed this bedding instead of forming axial planar cleavage. The detachment zone between the two members is transitional over tens of meters. Moving up-section, tight to isoclinal folds with steeply inclined axial surfaces are replaced by folds with low-angle axial planes, thrusts, and thrust wedging, bed-parallel shearing, and by pressure solution along bedding-parallel seams (that reduce fold amplitude). In outcrops 100-300 m long, reduction of line-length shortening on folds from >50% to <10% shortening upwards indicates that deformation in the NPM is being accommodated differently from the KYM, probably predominantly by shortening on longer wavelength and/or spacing folds and thrusts, given the low amount of strain observed within the NPM, which excludes widespread layer-parallel thickening

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Influence of pre-existing structure on pluton emplacement and geomorphology: The Merrimac plutons, northern Sierra Nevada, California, USA
V.E. Langenheim; J.A. Vazquez; K.M. Schmidt; G. Guglielmo, Jr.; D.S. Sweetkind

Abstract: In much of the western Cordillera of North America, the geologic frame¬work of crustal structure generated in the Mesozoic leaves an imprint on later plutonic emplacement, subsequent structural setting, and present landscape morphology. The Merrimac plutons in the northern Sierra Nevada (California, USA) are a good example of the influence of pre-existing structure at a larger scale. This paper updates and refines earlier studies of the Merrimac plutons, with the addition of analysis of gravity and magnetic data and new 206Pb/238U zircon dates. The gravity and magnetic data not only confirm the presence of two different neighboring plutons, but also (1) support the presence of a third pluton, (2) refine the nature of the contact between the Merrimac plutons as being structurally controlled, and (3) estimate the depth extent of the plutons to be ~4-5 km. The zircon 206Pb/238U dates indicate that the two main plutons have statistically different crystallization ages nearly 4 m.y. apart. Geomorphic analyses, including estimates of relief, roughness and drainage density and generation of chi plots, indicate that the two main plutons are characterized by different elevations with large longitudinal channel knickpoints that we speculatively attribute to possible reactivation of pre-existing structure in addition to lithologic variations influencing relative erosion susceptibility in response to prior accelerated surface uplift.

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Late Quaternary sea level, isostatic response, and sediment dispersal along the Queen Charlotte fault
J. Vaughn Barrie; H. Gary Greene; Kim W. Conway; Daniel S. Brothers

Abstract: The active Pacific margin of the Haida Gwaii and southeast Alaska has been subject to vigorous storm activity, dramatic sea-level change, and active tectonism since glacial times. Glaciation was minimal along the western shelf margin, except for large ice streams that formed glacial valleys to the shelf break between the major islands of southeast Alaska and Haida Gwaii. Upon deglaciation, sediment discharge was extensive, but it terminated quickly due to rapid glacial retreat and sea-level lowering with the development of a glacio-iso­static forebulge, coupled with eustatic lowering. Glacial sedimentation offshore ended soon after 15.0 ka. The shelf became emergent, with sea level lowering by, and possibly greater than, 175 m. The rapid transgression that followed began sometime before 12.7 ka off Haida Gwaii and 12.0 ka off southeast Alaska, and with the extreme wave-dominated environment, the unconsolidated sediment that was left on the shelf was effectively removed. Temperate carbonate sands make up the few sediment deposits presently found on the shelf. The Queen Charlotte fault, which lies just below the shelf break for most of its length, was extensively gullied during this short period of significant sed­iment discharge, when sediment was transported though the glacial valleys and across the narrow shelf through fluvial and submarine channels and was deposited offshore as sea level dropped. The Queen Charlotte fault became the western terminus of the glacio-isostatic forebulge, with the fault acting as a hinged flap taking up the uplift and collapse along the fault of 70+ m. This may have resulted in the development of the distinctive fault valley that presently acts as a very linear channel pathway for sediment throughout the fault system.

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