News Release

New articles for Geosphere posted online in November

Peer-Reviewed Publication

Geological Society of America

Boulder, Colo., USA: GSA’s dynamic online journal, Geosphere, posts articles online regularly. Locations and topics studied this month include seismicity recorded in hematite fault mirrors in the Rio Grande rift and evolution of the Nanaimo Basin, British Columbia, Canada. You can find these articles at


Porphyry copper deposit formation in arcs: What are the odds?
Jeremy P. Richards
Abstract: Arc magmas globally are H2O-Cl-S–rich and moderately oxidized (ΔFMQ = +1 to +2) relative to most other mantle-derived magmas (ΔFMQ ≤ 0). Their relatively high oxidation state limits the extent to which sulfide phases separate from the magma, which would otherwise tend to deplete the melt in chalcophile elements such as Cu (highly siderophile elements such as Au and especially platinum-group elements are depleted by even small amounts of sulfide segregation). As these magmas rise into the crust and begin to crystallize, they will reach volatile saturation, and a hydrous, saline, S-rich, moderately oxidized fluid is released, into which chalcophile and any remaining siderophile metals (as well as many other water-soluble elements) will strongly partition. This magmatic-hydrothermal fluid phase has the potential to form ore deposits (most commonly porphyry Cu ± Mo ± Au deposits) if its metal load is precipitated in economic concentrations, but there are many steps along the way that must be successfully negotiated before this can occur. This paper seeks to identify the main steps along the path from magma genesis to hydrothermal mineral precipitation that affect the chances of forming an ore deposit (defined as an economically mineable resource) and attempts to estimate the probability of achieving each step. The cumulative probability of forming a large porphyry Cu deposit at any given time in an arc magmatic system (i.e., a single batholith-linked volcanoplutonic complex) is estimated to be ~0.001%, and less than 1/10 of these deposits will be uplifted and exposed at shallow enough depths to mine economically (0.0001%). Continued uplift and ero­sion in active convergent tectonic regimes rapidly remove these upper-crustal deposits from the geological record, such that the probability of finding them in older arc systems decreases further with age, to the point that porphyry Cu deposits are almost nonexistent in Precambrian rocks. A key finding of this paper is that most volcanoplutonic arcs above subduction zones are prospective for porphyry ore formation, with prob­abilities only falling to low values at late stages of magmatic-hydrothermal fluid exsolution, focusing, and metal deposition. This is in part because of the high threshold required in terms of grade and tonnage for a deposit to be considered economic. Thus, the probability of forming a porphyry-type system in any given arc segment is relatively high, but the probability that it will be a large economic deposit is low, dictated to a large extent by mineral economics and metal prices.
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The rise and demise of deep accretionary wedges: A long-term field and numerical modeling perspective
Samuel Angiboust; Armel Menant; Taras Gerya; Onno Oncken
Abstract: Several decades of field, geophysical, analogue, and numerical modeling investigations have enabled documentation of the wide range of tectonic transport processes in accretionary wedges, which constitute some of the most dynamic plate boundary environments on Earth. Active convergent margins can exhibit basal accretion (via underplating) leading to the formation of variably thick duplex structures or tectonic erosion, the latter known to lead to the consumption of the previously accreted material and eventually the forearc continental crust. We herein review natural examples of actively underplating systems (with a focus on circum-Pacific settings) as well as field examples highlighting internal wedge dynamics recorded by fossil accretionary systems. Duplex formation in deep paleo–accretionary systems is known to leave in the rock record (1) diagnostic macro- and microscopic deformation patterns as well as (2) large-scale geochronological characteristics such as the downstepping of deformation and metamorphic ages. Zircon detrital ages have also proved to be a powerful approach to deciphering tectonic transport in ancient active margins. Yet, fundamental questions remain in order to understand the interplay of forces at the origin of mass transfer and crustal recycling in deep accretionary systems. We address these questions by presenting a suite of two-dimensional thermo-mechanical experiments that enable unravelling the mass-flow pathways and the long-term distribution of stresses along and above the subduction interface as well as investigating the importance of parameters such as fluids and slab roughness. These results suggest the dynamical instability of fluid-bearing accretionary systems causes either an episodic or a periodic character of subduction erosion and accretion processes as well as their topographic expression. The instability can be partly deciphered through metamorphic and strain records, thus explaining the relative scarcity of paleo–accretionary systems worldwide despite the tremendous amounts of material buried by the subduction process over time scales of tens or hundreds of millions of years. We finally stress that the understanding of the physical processes at the origin of underplating processes as well as the forearc topographic response paves the way for refining our vision of long-term plate-interface coupling as well as the rheological behavior of the seismogenic zone in active subduction settings.
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Slow slip in subduction zones: Reconciling deformation fabrics with instrumental observations and laboratory results
O. Oncken; S. Angiboust; G. Dresen
Abstract: Cataclasites are a characteristic rock type found in drill cores from active faults as well as in exposed fossil subduction faults. Here, cataclasites are commonly associated with evidence for pervasive pressure solution and abundant hydro­ fracturing. They host the principal slip of regular earthquakes and the family of so­called slow earthquakes (episodic slip and tremor, low to very low frequency earthquakes, etc.). Slip velocities associated with the formation of the different types of cataclasites and conditions controlling slip are poorly constrained both from direct observations in nature as well as from experimental research. In this study, we explore exposed sections of subduction faults and their dominant microstructures. We use recently proposed constitutive laws to estimate deformation rates, and we compare predicted rates with instrumental observations from subduction zones. By identifying the maximum strain rates using fault scaling relations to constrain the fault core thickness, we find that the instrumental shear strain rates identified for the family of “slow earthquakes” features range from 10−3s−1 to 10−5s−1. These values agree with estimated rates for stress corrosion creep or brittle creep possibly controlling cataclastic deformation rates near the failure threshold. Typically, pore­fluid pressures are suggested to be high in subduction zones triggering brittle deformation and fault slip. However, seismic slip events causing local dilatancy may reduce fluid pressures promoting pressure­solution creep (yielding rates of <10−8 to 10−12s−1) during the interseismic period in agreement with dominant fabrics in plate interface zones. Our observations suggest that cataclasis is controlled by stress corrosion creep and driven by fluid pressure fluctuations at near­lithostatic effective pressure and shear stresses close to failure. We posit that cataclastic flow is the dominant physical mechanism governing transient creep episodes such as slow slip events (SSEs), accelerating preparatory slip before seismic events, and early afterslip in the seismogenic zone.
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Early Pennsylvanian sediment routing to the Ouachita Basin (southeastern United States) and barriers to transcontinental sediment transport sourced from the Appalachian orogen based on detrital zircon U-Pb and Hf analysis
Isaac J. Allred; Michael D. Blum
Abstract: Carboniferous sediment dispersal from the Appalachian orogenic system (eastern United States) has become a topic of widespread interest. However, the actual pathways for continental-scale, east-to-west sediment transfer have not been documented. This study presents detrital zircon (DZ) U-Pb ages and Hf isotopic values from the Lower Pennsylvanian (Morrowan) Jackfork Group and Johns Valley Shale of the synorogenic Ouachita deepwater basin of Arkansas to document provenance and delineate the likely sediment-routing systems within the broader context of sediment dispersal across Laurentia. Twelve (12) DZ U-Pb age distributions are interpreted to indicate that sediments were derived from the Appalachians to the east and northeast, as well as the midcontinent region to the north. All samples display prominent ca. 500– 400 Ma, 1250–950 Ma, 1550–1300 Ma, and 1800–1600 Ma grains, consistent with ultimate derivation from the Appalachian, Grenville, Midcontinent, and Yavapai-Mazatzal provinces. DZ Hf values obtained from the Ouachita Basin are similar to published Hf values from Pennsylvanian samples in the Appalachian and Illinois Basins. Age distributions are generally consistent for seven samples collected from the Jackfork Group and Johns Valley Shale in the southern Ouachita Mountains through ~2400 m of stratigraphic section and are interpreted to indicate little change in provenance during the Morrowan in this part of the system. However, samples from the most northern and most source-proximal site in Little Rock, Arkansas, exhibit modest percentages of Appalachian ages and elevated contributions of Yavapai-Mazatzal ages when compared with samples collected farther to the south and west. We interpret differences between DZ signatures to indicate distinct sediment-routing pathways to the Ouachita Basin. We infer the strong Appalachian and Grenville signals to represent an axial system flowing through the Appalachian foredeep, whereas the more diverse signals represent a confluence of rivers from the northeast through the backbulge of southern Illinois and western Kentucky and from the north across the Arkoma shelf. Collectively, the Ouachita Basin represents a terminal sink for sediments derived from much of the eastern and central United States.
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Late Cretaceous upper-crustal thermal structure of the Sevier hinterland: Implications for the geodynamics of the Nevadaplano
Nolan R. Blackford; Sean P. Long; Austin Stout; David W. Rodgers; C.M. Cooper ...
Abstract: Crustal temperature conditions can strongly influence the evolution of deformation during orogenesis. The Sevier hinterland plateau in Nevada and western Utah (“Nevadaplano”) experienced a Late Cretaceous episode of shallow-crustal metamorphism and granitic magmatism. Here, we investigate the thermal history of the Nevadaplano by measuring peak thermal field gradients attained in the upper 10–20 km of the crust along an east-west transect through nine ranges in eastern Nevada and western Utah, by integrating Raman spectroscopy of carbonaceous material thermometry and published conodont alteration indices with reconstructed cross sections. Thermal field gradients of 29 ± 3 °C/km were obtained in the House and Confusion Ranges in westernmost Utah. The Deep Creek, Schell Creek, and Egan Ranges in easternmost Nevada yielded elevated gradients of 49 ± 7 °C/km, 36 ± 3 °C/km, and 32 ± 6 °C/km, respectively. Moving westward, the White Pine, Butte, Pancake, and Fish Creek Ranges exhibit gradients typically between ~20–30 °C/km. The elevated thermal gradients in easternmost Nevada are interpreted to have been attained during ca. 70–90 Ma granitic magmatism and metamorphism and imply possible partial melting at ~18 km depths. Our data are compatible with published interpretations of Late Cretaceous lithospheric mantle delamination under the Sevier hinterland, which triggered lower-crustal anatexis and the resulting rise of granitic melts. The lack of evidence for structures that could have accommodated deep burial of rocks in the nearby Northern Snake Range metamorphic core complex, combined with thermal gradients from adjacent ranges that are ~1.5–3 times higher than those implied by thermobarometry in the Northern Snake Range, further highlights the debate over possible tectonic overpressure in Cordilleran core complexes. Cross-section retro-deformation defines 73.4 ± 4.6 km (76 ± 8%) of extension across eastern Nevada and 15 km of shortening in the Eastern Nevada fold belt.
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Seismicity recorded in hematite fault mirrors in the Rio Grande rift
M.L. Odlum; A.K. Ault; M.A. Channer; G. Calzolari
Abstract: Exhumed fault rocks provide a textural and chemical record of how fault zone composition and architecture control coseismic temperature rise and earthquake mechanics. We integrated field, microstructural, and hematite (U-Th)/He (He) thermochronometry analyses of exhumed minor (square-centimeter-scale surface area) hematite fault mirrors that crosscut the ca. 1400 Ma Sandia granite in two localities along the eastern flank of the central Rio Grande rift, New Mexico. We used these data to characterize fault slip textures; evaluate relationships among fault zone composition, thickness, and inferred magnitude of friction-generated heat; and document the timing of fault slip. Hematite fault mirrors are collocated with and crosscut specular hematite veins and hematite-cemented cataclasite. Observed fault mirror microstructures reflect fault reactivation and strain localization within the comparatively weaker hematite relative to the granite. The fault mirror volume of some slip surfaces exhibits polygonal, sintered hematite nanoparticles likely created during coseismic temperature rise. Individual fault mirror hematite He dates range from ca. 97 to 5 Ma, and ~80% of dates from fault mirror volume aliquots with high-temperature crystal morphologies are ca. 25–10 Ma. These aliquots have grain-size–dependent closure temperatures of ~75–108 °C. A new mean apatite He date of 13.6 ± 2.6 Ma from the Sandia granite is consistent with prior low-temperature thermochronometry data and reflects rapid, Miocene rift flank exhumation. Comparisons of thermal history models and hematite He data patterns, together with field and microstructural observations, indicate that seismicity along the fault mirrors at ~2–4 km depth was coeval with rift flank exhumation. The prevalence and distribution of high-temperature hematite grain morphologies on different slip surfaces correspond with thinner deforming zones and higher proportions of quartz and feldspar derived from the granite that impacted the bulk strength of the deforming zone. Thus, these exhumed fault mirrors illustrate how evolving fault material properties reflect but also govern coseismic temperature rise and associated dynamic weakening mechanisms on minor faults at the upper end of the seismogenic zone.
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Stratigraphy of the Eocene–Oligocene Titus Canyon Formation, Death Valley, California, and Eocene extensional tectonism in the Basin and Range
Nikolas Midttun; Nathan A. Niemi; Bianca Gallina
Abstract: Geologic mapping, measured sections, and geochronologic data elucidate the tectono-stratigraphic development of the Titus Canyon extensional basin in Death Valley, California, and provide new constraints on the age of the Titus Canyon Formation, one of the earliest syn-extensional deposits in the central Basin and Range. Detrital zircon maximum depositional ages (MDAs) and compiled 40Ar/39Ar ages indicate that the Titus Canyon Formation spans 40(?)–30 Ma, consistent with an inferred Duchesnean age for a unique assemblage of mammalian fossils in the lower part of the formation. The Titus Canyon Formation preserves a shift in depositional environment from fluvial to lacustrine at ca. 35 Ma, which along with a change in detrital zircon provenance may reflect both the onset of local extensional tectonism and climatic changes at the Eocene–Oligocene boundary. Our data establish the Titus Canyon basin as the southernmost basin in a system of late Eocene extensional basins that formed along the axis of the Sevier orogenic belt. The distribution of lacustrine deposits in these Eocene basins defines the extent of a low-relief orogenic plateau (Nevadaplano) that occupied eastern Nevada at least through Eocene time. As such, the age and character of Titus Canyon Formation implies that the Nevadaplano extended into the central Basin and Range, ~200 km farther south than previously recognized. Development of the Titus Canyon extensional basin precedes local Farallon slab removal by ca. 20 Ma, implying that other mechanisms, such as plate boundary stress changes due to decreased convergence rates in Eocene time, are a more likely trigger for early extension in the central Basin and Range.
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Evolution of the Late Cretaceous Nanaimo Basin, British Columbia, Canada: Definitive provenance links to northern latitudes
J. Brian Mahoney; James W. Haggart; Marty Grove; David L. Kimbrough; Virginia Isava ...
Abstract: Accurate reconstruction of the Late Cretaceous paleogeography and tectonic evolution of the western North American Cordilleran margin is required to resolve the long-standing debate over proposed large-scale, orogen-parallel terrane translation. The Nanaimo Basin (British Columbia, Canada) contains a high-fidelity record of orogenic exhumation and basin subsidence in the southwestern Canadian Cordillera that constrains the tectonic evolution of the region. Integration of detrital zircon U-Pb geochronology, conglomerate clast U-Pb geochronology, detrital muscovite 40Ar/39Ar thermochronology, and Lu-Hf isotopic analysis of detrital zircon defines a multidisciplinary provenance signature that provides a definitive linkage with sediment source regions north of the Sierra Nevada arc system (western United States). Analysis of spatial and temporal provenance variations within Nanaimo Group strata documents a bimodal sediment supply with a local source derived from the adjacent magmatic arc in the southern Coast Mountains batholith and an extra-regional source from the Mesoproterozoic Belt Supergroup and the Late Cretaceous Atlanta lobe of the Idaho batholith. Particularly robust linkages include: (1) juvenile (εHf >+10) Late Cretaceous zircon derived from the southern Coast Mountains batholith; (2) a bimodal Proterozoic detrital zircon signature consistent with derivation from Belt Supergroup (1700–1720 Ma) and ca. 1380 Ma plutonic rocks intruding the Lemhi subbasin of central Idaho (northwestern United States); (3) quartzite clasts that are statistical matches for Mesoproterozoic and Cambrian strata in Montana and Idaho (northwestern United States) and southern British Columbia; and (4) syndepositional evolved (εHf >−10) Late Cretaceous zircon and muscovite derived from the Atlanta lobe of the Idaho batholith. These provenance constraints support a tectonic restoration of the Nanaimo Basin, the southern Coast Mountains batholith, and Wrangellia to a position outboard of the Idaho batholith in Late Cretaceous time, consistent with proposed minimal-fault-offset models (<~1000 km).
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Late Pleistocene and early Holocene sea-level history and glacial retreat interpreted from shell-bearing marine deposits of southeastern Alaska, USA
James F. Baichtal; Alia J. Lesnek; Risa J. Carlson; Nicholas S. Schmuck; Jane L. Smith ...
Abstract: We leverage a data set of >720 shell-bearing marine deposits throughout southeastern Alaska (USA) to develop updated relative sea-level curves that span the past ~14,000 yr. This data set includes site location, elevation, description when available, and 436 14C ages, 45 of which are published here for the first time. Our sea-level curves suggest a peripheral forebulge developed west of the retreating Cordilleran Ice Sheet (CIS) margin between ca. 17,000 and 10,800 calibrated yr B.P. By 14,870 ± 630 to 12,820 ± 340 cal. yr B.P., CIS margins had retreated from all of southeastern Alaska’s fjords, channels, and passages. At this time, isolated or stranded ice caps existed on the islands, with alpine or tidewater glaciers in many valleys. Paleoshorelines up to 25 m above sea level mark the maximum elevation of transgression in the southern portion of the study region, which was achieved by 11,000 ± 390 to 10,500 ± 420 cal. yr B.P. The presence of Pacific sardine (Sardinops sagax) and the abundance of charcoal in sediments that date between 11,000 ± 390 and 7630 ± 90 cal. yr B.P. suggest that both ocean and air temperatures in southeastern Alaska were relatively warm in the early Holocene. The sea-level and paleoenvironmental reconstruction presented here can inform future investigations into the glacial, volcanic, and archaeological history of southeastern Alaska.
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Testing local and extraregional sediment sources for the Late Cretaceous northern Nanaimo basin, British Columbia, using 40Ar/39Ar detrital K-feldspar thermochronology
V. Isava; M. Grove; J.B. Mahoney; J.W. Haggart
Abstract: Detrital K-feldspar 40Ar/39Ar thermochronology was conducted on clastic sedimentary rock samples collected from northern exposures of the Upper Cretaceous Nanaimo Group on Vancouver Island and adjacent Gulf Islands of British Columbia to constrain the denudation history of the local Coast Mountains batholith source region and determine the origin of extraregional sediment supplied to the basin. Strata of the northern Nanaimo Group deposited between 86 and 83 Ma (Comox and Extension formations) exhibit a 130–85 Ma age distribution of detrital K-feldspar 40Ar/39Ar ages that lack age maxima. These are interpreted to have been sourced from the southwestern Coast Mountains batholith. Younger strata deposited between 83 and 72 Ma (Cedar District and De Courcy formations) yield a broader age range (150–85 Ma) with an age maximum near the depositional age. These results indicate focused denudation of deeper-seated rocks east of the Harrison Lake fault. The youngest units deposited after 72 Ma (Geoffrey, Spray, and Gabriola formations) primarily yield younger than 75 Ma detrital K-feldspar ages with pronounced age maxima near the depositional age. This sediment was sourced extraregionally relative to the Coast Mountains batholith. We sought to constrain the origin of the extra-regional sediment by measuring the thermal histories of 74 samples of basement rocks from throughout the Pacific Northwest, and by compiling a database of over 2400 biotite 40Ar/39Ar and K/Ar cooling ages from predominantly Cretaceous batholiths along the western North American margin. This analysis focused upon two previously proposed source regions: the Idaho batholith and the Mojave-Salina margin of southern California. The Nanaimo detrital K-feldspar 40Ar/39Ar age distributions favor the peraluminous Late Cretaceous Idaho batholith and its Proterozoic Belt-Purcell Supergroup sedimentary wall rock as the more likely source of the extraregional sediment and disfavor the Baja–British Columbia hypothesis for 2000–4000-km-scale translation of rocks along the margin during the Late Cretaceous.
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A graphic method for depicting basin evolution and changes in the dominant hydrodynamic process from paleocurrent data
Domenico Chiarella; Dario Gioia
Abstract: Paleocurrent data measured on depositional elements and sedimentary structures (e.g., channels, cross-strata) are commonly utilized in the descrip­tion of sedimentary strata. Paleocurrent data provide information about the depositional setting and in some cases can be useful for immediately detecting specific depositional processes (e.g., herringbone cross-strata for bimodal tidal currents). The typical graphical representation used to report paleocurrent data is the rose diagram. However, rose diagrams are not able to disclose all information contained in paleocurrent data, limiting the potentiality of such a representation method. In particular, there is presently no method to highlight changes in the paleogeographic configuration that can ultimately have an impact on the evolution of depositional processes and paleocurrent direction through time. Here, we present a graphic method that permits instant visualization of anomalies in paleocurrent distributions of the stratigraphic record that can be linked to changes in the paleogeography due to tectonic evolution or in the dominant hydrodynamic process. It is important to highlight that the proposed method does not aspire to replace rose diagrams but to provide an additional tool to be used before and in combination with rose diagrams in order to extrapolate as much information as possible from paleocurrent data.
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Latest Permian–Triassic magmatism of the Taimyr Peninsula: New evidence for a connection to the Siberian Traps large igneous province
Mikhail Kurapov; Victoria Ershova; Andrei Khudoley; Marina Luchitskaya; Daniel Stockli ...
Abstract: This study presents new whole rock major and trace element, Sr-Nd isotopic, petrographic, and geochronologic data for seven latest Permian (Changhsingian)–Late Triassic (Carnian) granitoid intrusions of the northwestern and northeastern Taimyr Peninsula in the Russian High Arctic. U-Pb zircon ages, obtained using secondary ion mass spectrometry (SIMS), sensitive high-resolution ion microprobe (SHRIMP), and laser ablation-inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry (LA-ICP-MS), define the crystallization age of the Taimyr intrusions studied as ranging from ca. 253 Ma to 228 Ma, which suggests two magmatic pulses of latest Permian–Early Triassic and Middle–Late Triassic age. Ar-Ar dating of biotite and amphibole indicate rapid cooling of the intrusions studied, but Ar-Ar ages of several samples were reset by secondary heating and hydrothermal activity induced by the Middle–Late Triassic magmatic pulse. Petrographic data distinguish two groups of granites: syenite–monzonites and granites–granodiorites. Sr-Nd isotopic data, obtained from the same intrusions, show a variation of initial (87Sr/86Sr)ratios between 0.70377 and 0.70607, and εNd(t) values range between –6.9 and 1.2. We propose that the geochemical and isotopic compositions of the Late Permian–Triassic Taimyr granites record the existence of a magma mush zone that was generated by the two pulses of Siberian Traps large igneous province (LIP) magmatism.
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Testing models of Laramide orogenic initiation by investigation of Late Cretaceous magmatic-tectonic evolution of the central Mojave sector of the California arc
Rita C. Economos; Andrew P. Barth; Joseph L. Wooden; Scott R. Paterson; Brody Friesenhahn ...
Abstract: The Mojave Desert region is in a critical position for assessing models of Laramide orogenesis, which is hypothesized to have initiated as one or more seamounts subducted beneath the Cretaceous continental margin. Geochronological and geochemical characteristics of Late Cretaceous magmatic products provide the opportunity to test the validity of Laramide orogenic models. Laramide-aged plutons are exposed along a transect across the Cordilleran Mesozoic magmatic system from Joshua Tree National Park in the Eastern Transverse Ranges eastward into the central Mojave Desert. A transect at latitude ~33.5°N to 34.5°N includes: (1) the large upper-crustal Late Cretaceous Cadiz Valley batholith, (2) a thick section of Proterozoic to Jurassic host rocks, (3) Late Cretaceous stock to pluton-sized bodies at mesozonal depths, and (4) a Jurassic to Late Cretaceous midcrustal sheeted complex emplaced at ~20 km depth that transitions into a migmatite complex truncated along the San Andreas fault. This magmatic section is structurally correlative with the Big Bear Lake intrusive suite in the San Bernardino Mountains and similar sheeted rocks recovered in the Cajon Pass Deep Scientific Drillhole. Zircon U-Pb geochronology of 12 samples via secondary ionization mass spectrometry (SIMS) (six from the Cadiz Valley batholith and six from the Cajon Pass Deep Scientific Drillhole) indicates that all Cretaceous igneous units investigated were intruded between 83 and 74 Ma, and Cajon Pass samples include a Jurassic age component. A compilation of new and published SIMS geochronological data demonstrates that voluminous magmatism in the Eastern Transverse Ranges and central Mojave Desert was continuous throughout the period suggested for the intersection and flat-slab subduction of the Shatsky Rise conjugate deep into the interior of western North America. Whole-rock major-element, trace-element, and isotope geochemistry data from samples from a suite of 106 igneous rocks represent the breadth of Late Cretaceous units in the transect. Geochemistry indicates an origin in a subduction environment and intrusion into a crust thick enough to generate residual garnet. The lack of significant deflections of compositional characteristics and isotopic ratios in igneous products through space and time argues against a delamination event prior to 74 Ma. We argue that Late Cretaceous plutonism from the Eastern Transverse Ranges to the central Mojave Desert represents subduction zone arc magmatism that persisted until ca. 74 Ma. This interpretation is inconsistent with the proposed timing of the docking of the Shatsky Rise conjugate with the margin of western North America, particularly models in which the leading edge of the Shatsky Rise was beneath Wyoming at 74 Ma. Alternatively, the timing of cessation of plutonism precedes the timing of the passage of the Hess Rise conjugate beneath western North America at ca. 70–65 Ma. The presence, geochemical composition, and age of arc products in the Eastern Transverse Ranges and central Mojave Desert region must be accounted for in any tectonic model of the transition from Sevier to Laramide orogenesis.
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Evolution of mafic lavas in Central Anatolia: Mantle source domains
Tanya Furman; Barry B. Hanan; Megan Pickard Sjoblom; Biltan Kürkcüoğlu; Kaan Sayit ...
Abstract: We present new Sr-Nd-Pb-Hf isotopic data on mafic lavas from the Sivas, Develidağ, Erciyes, and Erkilet volcanic complexes in central Turkey and Tendürek in eastern Turkey to evaluate the mantle sources for volcanism in the context of the geodynamic evolution of the Anatolian microplate. Early Miocene through Quaternary volcanism in Western Anatolia and latest Miocene through Quaternary activity in Central Anatolia were dominated by contributions from two distinct source regions: heterogeneous metasomatized or subduction-modified lithosphere, and roughly homogeneous sublithospheric ambient upper mantle; we model the source contributions through mixing between three end members. The sublithospheric mantle source plots close to the Northern Hemisphere reference line (NHRL) with radiogenic 206Pb/204Pb of ~19.15, while the other contributions plot substantially above the NHRL in Pb isotope space. The lithospheric source is heterogeneous, resulting from variable pollution by subduction-related processes likely including direct incorporation of sediment and/or mélange; its range in radiogenic isotopes is defined by regional oceanic sediment and ultrapotassic melts of the subcontinental lithospheric mantle. The geochemical impact of this contribution is disproportionately large, given that subduction-modified lithosphere and/or ocean sediment dominates the Pb isotope signatures of mafic Anatolian lavas. Subduction of the Aegean or Tethyan seafloor, associated with marked crustal shortening, took place throughout the region until ca. 16–17 Ma, after which time broad delamination of the thickened lower crust and/or the Tethyan slab beneath Central Anatolia allowed for sediment and/or mélange and slab-derived fluids to be released into the overlying evolving modified mantle. Aggregation of melts derived from both mantle and lithospheric domains was made possible by upwelling of warm asthenospheric material moving around and through the complexly torn younger Aegean-Cyprean slab that dips steeply to the north beneath southern Anatolia.
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Insights from the geological record of deformation along the subduction interface at depths of seismogenesis
Donald M. Fisher; John N. Hooker; Andrew J. Smye; Tsai-Wei Chen
Abstract: Subduction interfaces are loci of interdependent seismic slip behavior, fluid flow, and mineral redistribution. Mineral redistribution leads to coupling between fluid flow and slip behavior through decreases in porosity/permeability and increases in cohesion during the interseismic period. We investigate this system from the perspective of ancient accretionary complexes with regional zones of mélange that record noncoaxial strain during underthrusting adjacent to the subduction interface. Deformation of weak mudstones is accompanied by low-grade metamorphic reactions, dissolution along scaly microfaults, and the removal of fluid-mobile chemical components, whereas stronger sandstone blocks preserve veins that contain chemical components depleted in mudstones. These observations support local diffusive mass transport from scaly fabrics to veins during interseismic viscous coupling. Underthrusting sediments record a crack porosity that fluctuates due to the interplay of cracking and precipitation. Permanent interseismic deformation involves pressure solution slip, strain hardening, and the development of new shears in undeformed material. In contrast, coseismic slip may be accommodated within observed narrow zones of cataclastic deformation at the top of many mélange terranes. A kinetic model implies interseismic changes in physical properties in less than hundreds of years, and a numerical model that couples an earthquake simulator with a fluid flow system depicts a subduction zone interface governed by feedbacks between fluid production, permeability, hydrofracturing, and aging via mineral precipitation. During an earthquake, interseismic permeability reduction is followed by coseismic rupture of low permeability seals and fluid pressure drop in the seismogenic zone. Updip of the seismogenic zone, there is a post-seismic wave of higher fluid pressure that propagates trenchward.
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Interpretation of hydrothermal conditions, production-injection induced effects, and evidence for enhanced geothermal system- type heat exchange in response to >30 years of production at Roosevelt Hot Springs, Utah, USA
Stuart F. Simmons; Rick G. Allis; Stefan M. Kirby; Joseph N. Moore; Tobias P. Fischer
Abstract: The Roosevelt Hot Springs hydrothermal system is located at the base of the Mineral Mountains in southwestern Utah on the eastern side of the Basin and Range. Hydrothermal activity is related to relatively recent bimodal magmatism, and the system is hosted in coarsely crystalline rock made of Oligocene–Miocene granitoids and Precambrian gneiss. The hydrothermal plume covers ~5 km2, with a maximum temperature of 268 °C at ~750 m depth, and a vertically extensive fault-fracture mesh east of the Opal Mound fault controls the upflow of hydrothermal fluids. Power generation (currently 38 MWe gross) began in 1984, and up through 2016, four wells were used for fluid production, and three wells were used for edge-field injection. Chemical analyses of produced fluids show that modern reservoir fluid compositions are similar to but more concentrated than those at the start of production, having near-neutral pH, total dissolved solids of 7000–10,000 mg/kg, and ionic ratios of Cl/HCO~50–100, Cl/SO~50–100, and Na/K ~4–5. Chemical geothermometers indicate equilibration temperatures that mainly range between 240° and 300 °C. Early production induced a steep drop in pressure (~3.0–3.5 MPa), which was accompanied by a 250–300 m lowering of piezometric levels in wells and development of a shallow steam zone across the system. Hydrothermal fluid compositions evolved continuously in response to production-related steam-loss and injection breakthrough, which is reflected by gradual increases in chloride of up to 35% and stable isotope ratios of up to ~2‰ δ18O and ~10‰ #x03B4;D. Simple mixing model calculations suggest that there has been a significant amount, ~10–20 MWth, of sustained multi-decadal heat mining and enhanced geothermal system (EGS)–type heat transfer by the injectate as it returns to the production zone. Overall, the two factors that have sustained long-term power production (currently 38 MWe gross) are the increased upflow of deep chloride water and, to a lesser extent, the mining of heat at <1 km depth.
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Detrital zircon geothermochronology reveals pre-Alleghanian exhumation of regional Mississippian sediment sources in the southern Appalachian Valley and Ridge Province
Matthew McKay; William T. Jackson, Jr.; Derek Spurgeon; Adelie Ionescu; Barry Shaulis
Abstract: The Black Warrior foreland basin records sedimentation associated with the development of intersecting Ouachita and Alleghanian thrust belts along the southern margin of Laurentia. Mississippian–Pennsylvanian units in the Black Warrior basin are interpreted to be sourced from either the northern Appalachians and mid-continent or more regionally from the southern Appalachians or nearby Ouachita thrust belt. We present detrital zircon U-Pb ages and Th/U values from Paleozoic units that indicate zircon from the Mississippian Hartselle Sandstone are temporally and chemically compatible with being sourced from the southern Appalachians. Zircon mixing models suggest sediment was primarily recycled from Cambrian, Ordovician, and Devonian strata in the Appalachian Valley and Ridge, with minor influx from Piedmont units. A ca. 415 Ma zircon population requires additional input from the Maya Block of the Yucatan Peninsula or similar outboard terranes. We present zircon (U-Th)/He analysis and thermal history modeling of Paleozoic units, which detail pre-Alleghanian exhumation in the Appalachian Valley and Ridge. Both the Cambrian Chilhowee Group and Pennsylvanian Pottsville Formation exhibit (U-Th)/He dates ranging from 507 to 263 Ma with a Mississippian subset (353–329 Ma, n = 4), which indicates rapid cooling and inferred exhumation during Late Devonian–Early Mississippian Neoacadian tectonism. We propose a Mississippian drainage system that transported material along southern Appalachian structural fabrics to the juncture between Appalachian and Ouachita thrust belts followed by a sediment-routing rotation toward the Black Warrior foreland. This interpretation honors chemical-age zircon data, accounts for metamorphic grains in thin section petrography, and matches Mississippian–Pennsylvanian Black Warrior foreland lithostratigraphic relationships.
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Quaternary basaltic volcanic fields of the American Southwest
Greg A. Valentine; Michael H. Ort; Joaquín A. Cortés
Abstract: The southwestern United States contains numerous monogenetic basaltic volcanoes distributed in intraplate volcanic fields. We review, on a regional scale, our current understanding of the Quaternary basalts with a focus on aspects pertinent to hazard assessment, such as physical volcanology and geochronology, while also summarizing the several petrogenetic concep­tual models that have been proposed for the range of local tectonic settings in the region. We count 2229 volcanoes in 37 volcanic fields (including the Pinacate volcanic field, which is mostly in northern Sonora, Mexico). Volcanic landforms are dominantly scoria cones and ramparts with attendant lava fields that have a spectrum of ‘a’ā and blocky to pāhoehoe morphologies, while a small percentage of the volcanoes are maars and tuff cones. Explosive eruption styles that were driven mainly by magmatic volatiles, where they have been studied in detail, included Hawaiian, Strombolian, violent Strombolian, and sub-Plinian activity. The latter two have resulted in sub­stantial fallout deposits that can be traced tens of kilometers from source vents. Phreatomagmatic styles have produced pyroclastic current (mainly pyroclastic surges), ballistic, and fallout deposits. These eruption styles pose hazards to humans when they occur in populated areas and to air travel and regional infrastructure even in sparsely populated areas. All but one of the major volcanic fields (fields that contain ~100 or more Quaternary volcanoes) together form a northwest-southeast–trending band, which we suggest may reflect an influence of plate-boundary-related shearing on melt segregation in the upper mantle along with other factors; this view is consistent with recent global positioning system (GPS) and structural geologic data indicating the influence of dextral motion along the North America-Pacific plate boundary deep inside the Southwest. Of the 2229 Quaternary volcanoes identified, ~548 (25%) have been dated, and only ~15% have been dated with methods such as 40Ar/39Ar and cosmogenic surface exposure methods that are considered optimal for young basalts. Acknowledging the large uncertainty due to the poor geochronological data coverage, we use a simple Poisson model to pro­vide a first-order estimate of recurrence rates of monogenetic volcanoes on the scale of the region as a whole; recurrence rates using our compiled age data set range from 3.74 × 10−4 yr−1 to 8.63 × 10−4 yr−1. These values are only based on dated and mapped volcanoes, respectively, and do not account for undated and buried volcanoes or other uncertainties in the volcano count. The time between monogenetic eruptions in the Southwest is similar to the repose times of some polygenetic volcanoes, which suggests that the regional hazard is potentially commensurate with the hazard from a reawakening stratovolcano such as those in the Cascade Range. Notable in our review is that only a few volcanoes have been the subject of physical volcanological characterization, interpretation, and detailed petrologic study that may elu­cidate factors such as magma generation, ascent (including time scales), and controls on eruption style.
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Giant meandering channel evolution, Campos deep-water salt basin, Brazil
Jacob A. Covault; Zoltán Sylvester; Can Ceyhan; Dallas B. Dunlap
Abstract: Submarine channels are conduits for sediment delivery to continental margins, and channel deposits can be sandy components of the fill in tectonically active salt basins. Examples of salt-withdrawal basin fill commonly show successions of sandy channelized or sheet-like systems alternating with more mud-rich mass-transport complexes and hemipelagites. This alternation of depositional styles is controlled by subsidence and sediment-supply histories. Salt-basin fill comprising successions of largely uninterrupted meandering-channel deposition are less commonly recognized. This begs the questions: can sediment supply be large enough to overwhelm basin subsidence and result in a thick succession of channel deposits, and, if so, how would such a channel system evolve? Here, we use three-dimensional seismic-reflection data from a >1500 kmregion with salt-influenced topography in the Campos Basin, offshore Brazil, to evaluate the influence of salt diapirs on an Upper Cretaceous–Paleogene giant meandering submarine-channel system (channel elements >1 km wide; meander wavelengths several kilometers to >10 km). The large scale of the channels in the Campos Basin suggests that sediment discharge was large enough to sustain the meandering channel system in spite of large variability in subsidence across the region. We interpreted 22 channel centerlines to reconstruct the detailed kinematic evolution of this depositional system; this level of detail is akin to that of recent studies of meandering fluvial channels in time-lapse Landsat satellite images. The oldest channel elements are farther from salt diapirs than many of the younger ones; the centerlines of the older channel elements exhibit a correlation between curvature and migration rate, and a spatial delay between locations of peak curvature and maximum migration distance, similar to that observed in rivers. As many of the younger channel centerlines expanded toward nearby salt diapirs, their migration pattern switched to downstream translation as a result of partial confinement. Channel segments that docked against salt diapirs became less mobile, and, as a result, they do not show a correlation between curvature and migration rate. The channel migration pattern in the Campos Basin is different compared to that of a tectonically quiescent continental rise where meander evolution is unobstructed. This style of channelized basin filling is different from that of many existing examples of salt-withdrawal minibasins that are dominated by overall less-channelized deposits. This difference might be a result of the delivery of voluminous coarse sediment and high discharge of channel-forming turbidity currents to the Campos Basin from rivers draining actively uplifting coastal mountains of southeastern Brazil. Detailed kinematic analysis of such well-preserved channels can be used to reconstruct the impact of structural deformation on basin fill.
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The effect of along-strike variation in dip on rupture propagation on strike-slip faults
Julian C. Lozos
Abstract: Strike-slip faults can be nonplanar in both their strike and dip dimensions. While a large body of work has investigated the effects of changes in strike on earthquake rupture and arrest, no previous studies have investigated the role of along-strike variations in dip on strike-slip ruptures. Here, I use the three-dimensional finite-element method to conduct dynamic simulations of ruptures on strike-slip faults with linear surface traces and changes in dip along strike. I experiment with the amount of dip change as well as the abruptness of that change under a variety of initial stress conditions. In all of my initial stress cases, I find that a change in dip along strike can cause rupture to stop, and that larger dip changes over shorter distances are more likely to do so. This is largely due to the change in strike at depth that inherently comes from changing the dip; the majority of these behaviors are a result of the rupture front being forced to change direction mid-rupture. While some dip-slip movement does occur on the nonvertical parts of the model fault, it does not have a significant effect on rupture extent. However, linear-surface-trace, nonvertical-dip faults do produce different surface slip, stress, and ground motion patterns compared to corresponding nonlinear-strike, vertical-dip faults. Together, my results show that changes in dip along strike-slip faults do considerably impact the rupture process, suggesting that this type of geometrical complexity should be considered in rupture forecasts and hazard assessments.
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Bringing sedimentology and stratigraphy into the StraboSpot data management system
Casey J. Duncan; Marjorie A. Chan; Elizabeth Hajek; Diane Kamola; Nicolas M. Roberts ...
Abstract: The StraboSpot data system provides field-based geologists the ability to digitally collect, archive, query, and share data. Recent efforts have expanded this data system with the vocabulary, standards, and workflow utilized by the sedimentary geology community. A standardized vocabulary that honors typical workflows for collecting sedimentologic and stratigraphic field and laboratory data was developed through a series of focused workshops and vetted/refined through subsequent workshops and field trips. This new vocabulary was designed to fit within the underlying structure of StraboSpot and resulted in the expansion of the existing data structure. Although the map-based approach of StraboSpot did not fully conform to the workflow for sedimentary geologists, new functions were developed for the sedimentary community to facilitate descriptions, interpretations, and the plotting of measured sections to document stratigraphic position and relationships between data types. Consequently, a new modality was added to StraboSpot— Strat Mode—which now accommodates sedimentary workflows that enable users to document stratigraphic positions and relationships and automates construction of measured stratigraphic sections. Strat Mode facilitates data collection and co-location of multiple data types (e.g., descriptive observations, images, samples, and measurements) in geographic and stratigraphic coordinates across multiple scales, thus preserving spatial and stratigraphic relationships in the data structure. Incorporating these digital technologies will lead to better research communication in sedimentology through a common vocabulary, shared standards, and open data archiving and sharing.
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Extreme metamorphism and metamorphic facies series at convergent plate boundaries: Implications for supercontinent dynamics
Yong-Fei Zheng; Ren-Xu Chen
Abstract: Crustal metamorphism under extreme pressure-temperature conditions produces characteristic ultrahigh-pressure (UHP) and ultrahigh-temperature (UHT) mineral assemblages at convergent plate boundaries. The formation and evolution of these assemblages have important implications, not only for the generation and differentiation of continental crust through the operation of plate tectonics, but also for mountain building along both converging and con- verged plate boundaries. In principle, extreme metamorphic products can be linked to their lower-grade counterparts in the same metamorphic facies series. They range from UHP through high-pressure (HP) eclogite facies to blueschist facies at low thermal gradients and from UHT through high-temperature (HT) granulite facies to amphibolite facies at high thermal gradients. The former is produced by low-temperature/pressure (T/P ) Alpine-type metamorphism during compressional heating in active subduction zones, whereas the latter is generated by high-T/P Buchan-type metamorphism during extensional heating in rifting zones. The thermal gradient of crustal metamorphism at convergent plate boundaries changes in both time and space, with low-T/P ratios in the compressional regime during subduction but high-T/P ratios in the extensional regime during rifting. In particular, bimodal metamorphism, one colder and the other hotter, would develop one after the other at convergent plate boundaries. The first is caused by lithospheric subduction at lower thermal gradients and thus proceeds in the compressional stage of convergent plate boundaries; the second is caused by lithospheric rifting at higher thermal gradients and thus proceeds in the extensional stage of convergent plate boundaries. In this regard, bimodal metamorphism is primarily dictated by changes in both the thermal state and the dynamic regime along plate boundaries. As a consequence, supercontinent assembly is associated with compressional metamorphism during continental collision, whereas supercontinent breakup is associated with extensional metamorphism during active rifting. Nevertheless, aborted rifts are common at convergent plate boundaries, indicating thinning of the previously thickened lithosphere during the attempted breakup of supercontinents in the history of Earth. Therefore, extreme metamorphism has great bearing not only on reworking of accretionary and collisional orogens for mountain building in continental interiors, but also on supercontinent dynamics in the Wilson cycle.
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Identification of seasonal varves in the lower Pliocene Bouse Formation, lower Colorado River Valley, and implications for Colorado Plateau uplift
Jon E. Spencer; Kurt N. Constenius; David L. Dettman; Kenneth J. Domanik
Abstract: The cause of Cenozoic uplift of the Colorado Plateau is one of the largest remaining problems of Cordilleran tectonics. Difficulty in discriminating between two major classes of uplift mechanisms, one related to lithosphere modification by low-angle subduction and the other related to active mantle processes following termination of subduction, is hampered by lack of evidence for the timing of uplift. The carbonate member of the Pliocene Bouse Formation in the lower Colorado River Valley southwest of the Colorado Plateau has been interpreted as estuarine, in which case its modern elevation of up to 330 m above sea level would be important evidence for late Cenozoic uplift. The carbonate member includes laminated marl and claystone interpreted previously in at least one locality as tidal, which is therefore of marine origin. We analyzed lamination mineralogy, oxygen and carbon isotopes, and thickness variations to discriminate between a tidal versus seasonal origin. Oxygen and carbon isotopic analysis of two laminated carbonate samples shows an alternating pattern of lower δ18O and δ13C associated with micrite and slightly higher δ18O and δ13C associated with siltstone, which is consistent with seasonal variation. Covariation of alternating δ18O and δ13C also indicates that post-depositional chemical alteration did not affect these samples. Furthermore, we did not identify any periodic thickness variations suggestive of tidal influence. We conclude that lamination characteristics indicate seasonal genesis in a lake rather than tidal genesis in an estuary and that the laminated Bouse Formation strata provide no constraints on the timing of Colorado Plateau uplift.
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