News Release

New articles for Geosphere posted online in February

Peer-Reviewed Publication

Geological Society of America

Boulder, Colo., USA: GSA’s dynamic online journal, Geosphere, posts articles online regularly. Topics include using the differences between soil and air temperatures for geological reconstructions of past climate; the western Snake River Plain, Idaho; the state of the art in numerical modeling of subduction; and the Pacific margin of Zealandia. You can find these articles at .

Petrogenesis of voluminous silicic magmas in the Sierra Madre Occidental large igneous province, Mexican Cordillera: Insights from zircon and Hf-O isotopes
Graham D.M. Andrews; Cathy J. Busby; Sarah R. Brown; Christopher M. Fisher; Pablo Davila-Harris ...
Abstract: Combined Hf-O isotopic analyses of zircons from tuffs and lavas within the Sierra Madre Occidental (SMO) silicic large igneous province are probes of petrogenetic processes in the lower and upper crust. Existing petrogenetic and tectonomagmatic models diverge, having either emphasized significant crustal reworking of hydrated continental lithosphere in an arc above the retreating Farallon slab or significant input of juvenile mantle melts through a slab window into an actively stretching continental lithosphere. New isotopic data are remarkably uniform within and between erupted units across the spatial and temporal extent of the SMO, consistent with homogeneous melt production and evolution. Isotopic values are consistent with enriched mantle magmas (80%) that assimilated Proterozoic paragneisses (~20%) from the lower crust. 18Ozircon values are consistent with fractionation of mafic magma and not with assimilation of hydrothermally altered upper crust, suggesting that the silicic magmas evolved at depth. Isotopic data agree with previous interpretations where voluminous juvenile melts entered the lithosphere during the transition from a continental arc experiencing slab rollback (Late Eocene) to the arrival of a subducting slab window (Oligocene and Early Miocene) and failure of the upper plate leading to the opening of the Gulf of California (Late Miocene). An anomalously large heat flux and extension of the upper plate allow for the sustained fractionation of the voluminous SMO magmas and assimilation of the lower crust.
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Spatial skill predicts success on sequence stratigraphic interpretation
B.Z. Kreager; N.D. LaDue; T.F. Shipley; R.D. Powell; B.A. Hampton
Abstract: Sequence stratigraphic interpretation and three-dimensional spatial and spatiotemporal skills are considered important for the petroleum industry. However, little is known about the relationship between the two. This study begins to fill this gap by testing whether spatial skills predict success on a sequence stratigraphic interpretation task. Students in this study ( N = 78) were enrolled in undergraduate or graduate stratigraphy-focused courses at three U.S. state universities. Students completed (1) a sequence stratigraphic interpretation task with a sequence stratigraphic diagram and Wheeler diagram and (2) two spatial skills tests. Findings of simple linear regressions show that both disembedding (extracting or finding a pattern among other features, which is typically assessed by the hidden-figures test) and mental folding and unfolding (as assessed by the surface development test) are predictive of student success on the full sequence stratigraphic interpretation task. A nested regression, entering mental folding as the initial variable and disembedding as the secondary variable, showed that mental folding and unfolding accounted for almost all of the variance accounted for by disembedding in the simple regression. This may reflect the need to employ disembedding for the test of mental folding. Because the test of disembedding and the test of mental folding and unfolding were correlated, the distinct role of disembedding in stratigraphy remains unclear. However, the results clearly show that mental folding and unfolding is related to student success in sequence stratigraphic interpretation. Future studies should characterize how students utilize these skills, try to determine the causal direction of this effect, and identify good practices for supporting students in the classroom.
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Geologic and geomorphic evidence for multi-phase history of strands of the San Andreas fault through the San Gorgonio Pass structural knot, southern California
Katherine J. Kendrick; Jonathan C. Matti; Nicolas C. Barth
Abstract: The San Gorgonio Pass region of southern California is a locus of extensive Quaternary deformation within a multi-strand section of the San Andreas fault zone. The geomorphology of the San Gorgonio Pass region reflects the complicated history of geologic events in the formation of this structurally complex region. We define fault-bounded blocks in San Gorgonio Pass and focus on two that are characterized by extensive crystalline bedrock outcrops with similar bedrock lithologies. These two blocks are separated by the San Bernardino strand of the San Andreas fault. Morphometric variables, including local relief, slope, slope distribution, and surface roughness, consistently demonstrate distinctions between the bedrock upland regions of the two blocks. Geologic observations of the region highlight differences in Quaternary units within the two blocks, reflective of the differing surficial processes active in each block. Within the Kitching Peak block, the morphology highlights a lineament that we informally name the Lion Canyon lineament. This boundary more clearly differentiates the two regions, as compared to the mapped San Bernardino strand, and may represent the previously active strand or bounding structure in this section. The distinction in morphology and surficial processes leads to our interpretation that the Kitching Peak and Pisgah Peak blocks have experienced different uplift histories. This further leads to the conclusion that the San Bernardino strand, broadly defined, has been integrated, at some point in the past, with the Banning strand, allowing for through-going rupture along the fault system. This connectivity may have occurred along the Burro Flats section of the San Bernardino strand or the Lion Canyon lineament. The fault connection along the mapped trace of the San Bernardino strand is not currently evident at the surface, however, suggesting that the integration has been disrupted. We propose this is due to intervals of N-S compression in the region, manifest as slip along the San Gorgonio Pass fault zone and other regional faults. We present evidence for lateral displacement along the San Bernardino and Banning strands of the San Andreas fault, discuss the implications of these displacements, and propose a sequence of fault activity, including multiple phases of activity along the San Bernardino and Banning strand pathway to account for the structural complexity and lack of surficial fault continuity.
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A robust age model for the Cryogenian Pocatello Formation of southeastern Idaho (northwestern USA) from tandem in situ and isotope dilution U-Pb dating of volcanic tuffs and epiclastic detrital zircons
Vincent H. Isakson; Mark D. Schmitz; Carol M. Dehler; Francis A. Macdonald; W. Adolph Yonkee
Abstract: Tandem in situ and isotope dilution U-Pb analysis of zircons from pyroclastic volcanic rocks and both glacial and non-glacial sedimentary strata of the Pocatello Formation (Idaho, northwestern USA) provides new age constraints on Cryogenian glaciation in the North American Cordillera. Two dacitic tuffs sampled within glacigenic strata of the lower diamictite interval of the Scout Mountain Member yield high-precision chemical abrasion isotope dilution U-Pb zircon eruption and depositional ages of 696.43 ± 0.21 and 695.17 ± 0.20 Ma. When supplemented by a new high-precision detrital zircon maximum depositional age of ≤670 Ma for shoreface and offshore sandstones unconformably overlying the lower diamictite, these data are consistent with correlation of the lower diamictite to the early Cryogenian (ca. 717–660 Ma) Sturtian glaciation. These 670–675 Ma zircons persist in beds above the upper diamictite and cap dolostone units, up to and including a purported “reworked fallout tuff,” which we instead conclude provides only a maximum depositional age of ≤673 Ma from epiclastic volcanic detritus. Rare detrital zircons as young as 658 Ma provide a maximum depositional age for the upper diamictite and overlying cap dolostone units. This new geochronological framework supports litho- and chemostratigraphic correlations of the lower and upper diamictite intervals of the Scout Mountain Member of the Pocatello Formation with the Sturtian (716–660 Ma) and Marinoan (≤650–635 Ma) low-latitude glaciations, respectively. The Pocatello Formation thus contains a more complete record of Cryogenian glaciations than previously postulated.
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Impact of bending-related faulting and oceanic-plate topography on slab hydration and intermediate-depth seismicity
Jacob Geersen; Christian Sippl; Nicholas Harmon
Abstract: It is commonly assumed that intermediate-depth seismicity is in some way linked to dehydration reactions inside subducting oceanic plates. Although there is growing evidence that the hydration state of an oceanic plate is controlled by its structure and degree of faulting, we do not have a quantitative understanding of this relationship. Double seismic zones offer the possibility of investigating changes in oceanic-plate hydration not only along strike but also with depth beneath the slab surface. To quantify the impact of oceanic-plate structure and faulting on slab hydration and intermediate-depth seismicity, with a focus on the genesis of double seismic zones, we correlate high-resolution earthquake catalogs and seafloor maps of ship-based bathymetry for the northern Chilean and Japan Trench subduction zones. The correlations show only a weak influence of oceanic-plate structure and faulting on seismicity on the upper plane of the double seismic zone, which may imply that hydration is limited by slow reaction kinetics at low temperatures 5–7 km below the seafloor and by the finite amount of exposed wall rock in the outer-rise region. These factors seem to limit hydration even if abundant water is available. Seismicity in the lower plane is, in contrast, substantially enhanced where deformation of the oceanic plate is high and distributed across intersecting faults. This likely leads to an increase in the volume of damaged wall rock around the faults, thereby promoting the circulation of water to mantle depths where serpentinization is faster due to elevated temperatures. Increased lower-plane seismicity around subducting oceanic features such as seamounts or fracture zones may also be caused by enhanced faulting around these features. Our results provide a possible explanation for the globally observed presence of rather homogeneous upper-plane seismicity in double seismic zones as well as for the commonly patchy and inhomogeneous distribution of lower-plane seismicity.
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The “Nazas Arc” is a continental rift province: Implications for Mesozoic tectonic reconstructions of the southwest Cordillera, U.S. and Mexico
C.J. Busby; E. Centeno-García
Abstract: We reject the notion of a Jurassic continental arc in eastern Mexico, termed the “Nazas arc,” on geologic grounds. Instead, we propose that the Jurassic continental arc of the SW Cordilleran U.S. and northern Sonora, Mexico, passed southward into the oceanic realm and is represented by Jurassic arc volcanic and plutonic rocks that fringed the Mexican paleo-Pacific margin, which are currently found in the western Peninsular Ranges of southern California, USA, and Baja California, the Vizcaino Peninsula of Baja California, and western mainland Mexico. To show this, we present a summary of the geologic features of a continental arc, using the geology of the southern end of the Jurassic continental arc, in southern Arizona and northern Sonora. These features include multi-kilometer–thick sections of volcanic rock; large volcanic centers, including silicic calderas; major eruptive units that can be correlated for distances of 100 km or more; abundant, large plutonic suites; and continuity of these features for distances of hundreds of kilometers along the length of the continental arc. Then we show that the “Nazas arc” consists of scattered, small continental rift basins with thin (meters to tens of meters thick) volcanic sections at the base of clastic sections that are hundreds of meters thick. Plutonic rocks are entirely absent from the “Nazas arc,” despite the fact that post-Jurassic tectonic events should have exposed them if they existed. This paper also presents a tabulation of all published U-Pb zircon dates in the Jurassic continental arc of southern Arizona, USA, and northern Sonora (Table 1A), and in the “Nazas arc” of eastern Mexico (Table 1B), with ages, methods, the rock type dated, and notes on geologic relations. We use this to detail the abundance of thick, laterally extensive volcanic sections and large plutonic suites in a continental arc (the Jurassic arc of southern Arizona–northern Sonora), which contrasts sharply with the “Nazas arc. The term “Nazas arc” has been in widespread usage for volcanic rocks in eastern Mexico for decades in many dozens of papers, and it is portrayed as a 2000-km-long, 250-km-wide belt that extends from Sonora through eastern Mexico to Chiapas. It has been misunderstood to form a subduction-related silicic large igneous province (SLIP), and it has been proposed that the Gulf of Mexico formed as a backarc basin behind the “Nazas arc.” The “Nazas arc” model also requires an east-dipping subduction zone under Mexico, and a separate west-dipping subduction zone under the oceanic arc rocks of western Mexico, which those models portray as an exotic arc, despite the presence of abundant detrital zircon from the Mexican margin. We urge workers to abandon the term “Nazas arc” and replace it with “Nazas rift province,” which represents continental rift basins formed during the breakup of Pangea.
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Detrital zircon provenance of the Cretaceous–Neogene East Coast Basin reveals changing tectonic conditions and drainage reorganization along the Pacific margin of Zealandia
Jared T. Gooley; Nora M. Nieminski
Abstract: The Upper Cretaceous–Pliocene strata of New Zealand record ~100 m.y. of Zealandia’s evolution, including development of the Hikurangi convergent margin and Alpine transform plate boundary. A comprehensive, new detrital zircon U-Pb data set (8315 analyses from 61 samples) was generated along a ~700 km transect of the East Coast Basin of New Zealand. Age distributions were analyzed and interpreted in terms of published data available for Cambrian–Cretaceous igneous and metasedimentary source terranes using a Monte Carlo mixture modeling approach. Results indicate a widespread Early Cretaceous transition in sediment source from the Gondwana interior to the Median Batholith magmatic arc prior to Late Cretaceous rifting from Antarctica. Submergence of Zealandia during a Late Cretaceous–Paleogene drift phase led to major drainage reorganization and the influx of Eastern Province sediment to the East Coast Basin. A long-lived sediment conduit that transported extraregional Western Province detritus to the south-central East Coast Basin may have developed along a structural precursor to the Alpine Fault. Marked Neogene increase of Upper Jurassic–Lower Cretaceous Torlesse Composite Terrane sediment to the central East Coast Basin resulted from exhumation of the Axial Ranges, convergence along the Hikurangi subduction margin, and concurrent development of the Alpine Fault. Concurrent influx of contemporaneous Neogene zircon in the northern East Coast Basin indicated the onset of subduction-related volcanism of the Northland–Coromandel Volcanic Arc. Middle Miocene–Pliocene exhumation and dextral translation of the Nelson region along the Alpine Fault resulted in the eastward routing of Western Province sediment to the central East Coast Basin. Finally, topography developed across the plate boundary and ultimately partitioned continental drainage of Zealandia, such that sediment from the Murihiku, Caples, and Rakaia Terranes in the Otago region was routed to the southern extent of the East Coast Basin. These results illuminate the evolution of the Zealandia continental drainage divide in response to the initiation of the Pacific-Australian plate boundary and demonstrate the power of mixture modeling and large data sets for deciphering sediment routing in dynamic tectonic environments.
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Linking exhumation, paleo-relief, and rift formation to magmatic processes in the western Snake River Plain, Idaho, using apatite (U-Th)/He thermochronology
Kelsey F. Wetzel; Jessica R. Stanley
Abstract: The western Snake River Plain (WSRP) in southwest Idaho has been characterized as an intracontinental rift basin but differs markedly in topography and style from other Cordilleran extensional structures and structurally from the down-warped lava plain of the eastern Snake River Plain. To investigate mechanisms driving extension and topographic evolution, we sampled granitoid bedrock from Cretaceous and Eocene-aged plutons from the mountainous flanks of the WSRP to detail their exhumation history with apatite (U-Th)/He (AHe) thermochronometry. AHe cooling dates from seventeen samples range from 7.9 ± 1.4 Ma to 55 ± 10 Ma. Most cooling dates from Cretaceous plutons adjacent to the WSRP are Eocene, while Eocene intrusions from within the Middle Fork Boise River canyon ~35 km NE of the WSRP yield Miocene cooling dates. The AHe dates provide evidence of exhumation of the Idaho batholith during the Eocene, supporting a high relief landscape at that time, followed by decreasing relief. The Miocene AHe dates show rapid cooling along the Middle Fork Boise River that we take to indicate focused river incision due to base level fall in the WSRP. Eocene AHe dates limit magnitudes of exhumation and extension on the flanks of the WSRP during Miocene rift formation. This suggests extension was accommodated by magmatic intrusions and intrabasin faults rather than basin-bounding faults. We favor a model where WSRP extension was related to Columbia River Flood Basalt eruption and enhanced by later eruption of the Bruneau-Jarbidge and Twin Falls volcanic fields, explaining the apparent difference with other Cordilleran extensional structures.
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The formation of high-Sr/Y plutons in cordilleran-arc crust by crystal accumulation and melt loss
Adam J. Brackman; Joshua J. Schwartz
Abstract: Bulk-rock data are commonly used in geochemical studies as a proxy for melt compositions in order to understand the evolution of crustal melts. However, processes of crystal accumulation and melt migration out of deep-crustal, crystal-rich mush zones to shallower storage regions raise questions about how faithfully bulk-rock compositions in plutons approximate melt compositions. This problem is particularly acute in the lower crust of arcs, where melt reservoirs are subject to periodic melt extraction that leaves behind a cumulate residue. Here, we examine bulk-rock data from the perspective of high-Sr/Y plutonic rocks in the lower crust of a well-exposed Early Cretaceous cordilleran-arc system in Fiordland, New Zealand. We test the validity of using high-Sr/Y bulk-rock compositions as proxies for melts by comparing bulk-rock compositions to melts modeled from >100 major- and trace-element analyses of 23 magmatic clinopyroxene grains from the same samples. The sampling locations of the igneous clinopyroxenes and encompassing bulk rocks are distributed across ~550 km2 of exhumed lower crust and are representative of Mesozoic lower-crustal arc rocks in the Median batholith. We confirm that bulk-rock data have characteristics of high-Sr/Y plutons (Sr/Y >50, Na 2O >3.5 wt%, Sr >1000 ppm, and Y <20 ppm), features that have been previously interpreted to indicate the presence of garnet as a residual or fractionating phase. In contrast to bulk rocks, igneous clinopyroxenes have low Sr (<100 ppm), high Y (25–100 ppm), and low molar Mg# [100 × Mg/(Mg + Fe)] values (60–70), which are consistent with derivation from fractionated, low-Sr/Y melts. Chondrite-normalized rare-earth-element patterns and Sm/Yb values in clinopyroxenes also show little to no evidence for involvement of garnet in the source or in differentiation processes. Fe-Mg partitioning relationships indicate that clinopyroxenes are not in equilibrium with their encompassing bulk rocks but could have been in equilibrium with melt compositions determined from chemometry of coexisting igneous hornblendes. Moho-depth calculations based on bulk-rock Sr/Y values also yield Moho depths (average = 69 km) that are inconsistent with Moho depths based on bulk-rock Ce/Y, contact aureole studies, Al-in-horn- blende crystallization pressures, and our modeled clinopyroxene crystallization pressures. These data indicate that most Mesozoic high-Sr/Y bulk rocks in the lower crust of Fiordland are cumulates formed by plagioclase + amphibole + clinopyroxene accumulation and interstitial melt loss from crystal-rich mush zones. Our data do not support widespread fractionation of igneous garnet nor partial melting of a garnet-bearing source in the petrogenesis of these melts. We speculate that melt extraction and the production of voluminous cumulates in the lower crust were aided by unusually high heat flow and high magma addition rates associated with an Early Cretaceous arc flareup. We conclude that bulk-rock compositions are poor proxies for melt compositions in the lower crust of the Median batholith, and geochemical modeling of these high-Sr/Y bulk rocks would overemphasize the role of garnet in their petrogenesis.
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A new geological map of the Lau Basin (southwestern Pacific Ocean) reveals crustal growth processes in arc-backarc systems
Margaret S. Stewart; Mark D. Hannington; Justin Emberley; Alan T. Baxter; Anna Krätschell ...
Abstract: A 1:1,000,000-scale lithostratigraphic assemblage map of the Lau Basin (southwestern Pacific Ocean) has been created using remote predictive mapping (RPM) techniques developed by geological surveys on land. Formation-level geological units were identified in training sets at scales of 1:100,000–1:200,000 in different parts of the basin and then extrapolated to the areas where geological data are sparse. The final compilation is presented together with a quantitative analysis of assemblage-level crustal growth based on area-age relationships of the assigned units. The data sets used to develop mapping criteria and an internally consistent legend for the compilation included high-resolution ship-based multibeam, satellite- and ship-based gravity, magnetics, seafloor imaging, and sampling data. The correlation of units was informed by published geochronological information and kinematic models of basin opening. The map covers >1,000,000 km2 of the Lau-Tonga arc-backarc system, subdivided into nine assemblage types: forearc crust (9% by area), crust of the active volcanic arc (7%), backarc rifts and spreading centers (20%), transitional arc-backarc crust (13%), relict arc crust (38%), relict backarc crust (8%), and undivided arc-backarc assemblages (<5%), plus oceanic assemblages, intraplate volcanoes, and carbonate platforms. Major differences in the proportions of assemblage types compared to other intraoceanic subduction systems (e.g., Mariana backarc, North Fiji Basin) underscore the complex geological makeup of the Lau Basin. Backarc crust formed and is forming simultaneously at 12 different locations in the basin in response to widely distributed extension, and this is considered to be a dominant pattern of crustal accretion in large arc-backarc systems. Accelerated basin opening and a microplate breakout north of the Peggy Ridge has been accommodated by seven different spreading centers. The result is an intricate mosaic of small intact assemblages in the north of the basin, compared to fewer and larger assemblages in the south. Although the oldest rocks are Eocene (~40 m.y. old basement of the Lau and Tonga Ridges), half of the backarc crust in the map area formed within the last 3 m.y. and therefore represents some of the fastest growing crust on Earth, associated with prolific magmatic and hydro-thermal activity. These observations provide important clues to the geological evolution and makeup of ancient backarc basins and to processes of crustal growth that ultimately lead to the emergence of continents.
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Numerical modeling of subduction: State of the art and future direction
Taras Gerya
Abstract: During the past five decades, numerical modeling of subduction, one of the most challenging and captivating geodynamic processes, remained in the core of geodynamic research. Remarkable progress has been made in terms of both in-depth understanding of different aspects of subduction dynamics and deciphering the diverse and ever-growing array of subduction zone observations. However, numerous key questions concerning subduction remain unanswered defining the frontier of modern Earth Science research. This review of the past decade comprises numerical modeling studies focused on 12 key open topics.Future progress will require conceptual and technical progress in subduction modeling as well as crucial inputs from other disciplines (rheology, phase petrology, seismic tomography, geochemistry, numerical theory, geomorphology, ecology, planetology, astronomy, etc.). As in the past, the multi-physics character of subduction-related processes ensures that numerical modeling will remain one of the key quantitative tools for integration of natural observations, developing and testing new hypotheses, and developing an in-depth understanding of subduction. The review concludes with summarizing key results and outlining 12 future directions in subduction and plate tectonics modeling that will target unresolved issues discussed in the review.
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The Cenozoic evolution of the Intrarif (Rif, Morocco)
Manuel Martín-Martín; Francesco Guerrera; Alí Maaté; Rachid Hlila; Francisco Serrano ...
Abstract: This paper provides an understanding of the sedimentary-tectonic evolution of the Cenozoic strata of the El Habt and Ouezzane Tectonic Units (Intrarif, External Rif) in Morocco. New data provide information about the depositional architecture and enable a correlation of the evolution of the External Rif in Morocco with that of the Betic Cordillera in Spain and the Tunisian Tell, which provides new insights for hydrocarbon exploration in the region regarding possible source, reservoir, and seal rocks. The reconstructed Cenozoic succession was bio-chronologically defined, and the major unconformities and stratigraphic gaps were identified. The presence of these unconformities allowed three main stratigraphic sequences to be defined by age: Danian p.p., early Ypresian–early Bartonian p.p., and the early Rupelian–early Serravallian p.p. Three secondary stratigraphic sequences in the former upper main sequence were also defined by age: early Rupelian–late Chattian p.p., Burdigalian p.p., and the Langhian–Serravallian p.p. The depositional setting evolved from deep basin during the Late Cretaceous–Paleocene to external platform-slope during the Eocene–Miocene. The Cenozoic sandstones contain metamorphic and sedimentary rock fragments derived from a recycled orogen source area. The clay mineralogy in the Cenozoic strata consists of associations of Ill+(I–S) ± Sme, Ill+(I–S) ± Sme+Kln and Ill+(I–S) ± Sme+- Kln+Chl. These associations indicate an initial unroofing in the Paleogene period, then in the Cretaceous period, and finally in the Late Jurassic period during the Eocene–Oligocene. This detritus was followed by variable amounts of a sedimentary mix of Paleogene to Late Jurassic terrains due to several phases of erosion and deposition partly related to syn-sedimentary tectonics during the Miocene. Equivalent features (similar types of sediments, tectofacies, gaps, and unroofing) were also recognized along the Betic Cordillera in Spain and Maghrebian Chain (Morocco and Tunisia) and interpreted as related to a pre-nappe tectonic activity of soft basement folding, which occurred during the Paleogene after the generalized tectonic inversion (from extension to compression) occurred in the Late Cretaceous. The Upper Cretaceous is considered to be the hydrocarbon source rock, while the fractured Eocene and the porous Oligo-Miocene suites are proposed as possible hydrocarbon reservoirs. The Cenozoic stratigraphic architecture and the nappe structure of the region could provide the necessary trap structures.
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Open AR-Sandbox: A haptic interface for geoscience education and outreach
Florian Wellmann; Simon Virgo; Daniel Escallon; Miguel de la Varga; Alexander Jüstel ...
Abstract: Virtual reality concepts have been widely adapted to teach geoscientific content, most notably in virtual field trips—with increased developments due to recent travel restrictions and challenges of field access. On the spectrum between real and fully virtual environments are also combinations of digital and real content in mixed-reality environments. In this category, augmented-reality (AR) sandboxes have been used as a valuable tool for science outreach and teaching due to their intuitive and haptic interaction-enhancing opera­tion. Most of the common AR-sandboxes are limited to the visualization of topography with contour lines and colors, as well as water simulations on the digital terrain surface. We show here how we can get beyond this limitation, through an open-source implementation of an AR-sandbox system with a versatile interface written in the free and cross-platform programming language Python. This implementation allows for creative and novel applications in geosciences education and outreach in general. With a link to a 3-D geomodelling system, we show how we can display geologic subsurface information such as the outcropping lithology, creating an interactive geological map for structural geology classes. The relations of subsurface structures, topography, and outcrop can be explored in a playful and comprehensible way. Additional examples include the visualizations of geophysical fields and the propagation of seismic waves, as well as simulations of Earth surface processes. We further extended the functionality with ArUco-marker detection to enable more precise and flexible interaction with the projected content. In combination, with these developments, we aim to make AR-sandbox systems, with the additional dimension of haptic interactions, accessible to a wider range of geoscientific applications for education and outreach.
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Neogene sedimentary record of the evolution of a translated strike-slip basin along the Denali fault system: Implications for timing of displacement, composite basin development, and regional tectonics of southern Alaska
Wai K. Allen; Kenneth D. Ridgway; J.A. Benowitz; T.S. Waldien; S.M. Roeske ...
Abstract: Analysis of the late Miocene to Holocene McCallum sedimentary basin, located along the south side of the eastern Denali fault system, provides a better understanding of strike-slip basin evolution, timing of displacement on the Denali fault, and tectonics of the southern Alaska convergent margin. Analysis of the McCallum basin utilizing measured stratigraphic sections, lithofacies analyses, and 40Ar/39Ar tephra ages documented a 564-m-thick, two-member stratigraphy. Fine-grained, lacustrine-dominated environments characterized deposition of the lower member, and coarse-grained, stream-dominated alluvial-fan environments characterized deposition of the upper member. The 40Ar/ 39Ar dating of tephras indicated that the lower member was deposited from 6.1 to 5.0 Ma, and the upper member was deposited from 5.0 to 3.8 Ma. Our stratigraphic analysis of the McCallum basin illuminates the development of a composite strike-slip basin, with the deposition of the lower member occurring along a transtensional fault section, and deposition of the upper member occurring along a transpressional fault section. This change in depositional and tectonic settings is interpreted to reflect ~79–90 km of transport of the basin along the Denali fault system based on Pleistocene–Holocene slip rates. Previous studies of the timing of Cenozoic displacement on the Denali fault system utilizing sedimentary records emphasized a Paleogene component; our findings, however, also require a significant Neogene component. Neogene strike-slip displacement and basin development along the Denali fault system were broadly coeval with development of high topography and related clastic wedges across southern Alaska in response to flat slab subduction of the Yakutat microplate.
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Latest Triassic–Early Jurassic Stikine–Yukon-Tanana terrane collision and the onset of accretion in the Canadian Cordillera: Insights from Hazelton Group detrital zircon provenance and arc–back-arc configuration
JoAnne L. Nelson; Bram van Straaten; Richard Friedman
Abstract: The Hazelton Group is a Rhaetian–Bajocian (uppermost Triassic–Middle Jurassic) volcano-sedimentary sequence that represents both the last pre-accretionary arc volcanic cycle of Stikinia and its early synaccretionary aftermath. Hazelton magmatism of central Stikinia succeeded the Late Triassic (mainly Carnian–Norian) Stuhini arc, which ceased activity as a result of end-on collision with the pericratonic Yukon-Tanana terrane. The Hazelton volcanic belt lies to the south along strike with the coeval Whitehorse trough, the synorogenic clastic basin that developed on top of the Stikinia–Yukon-Tanana collision zone. Whereas the sources of voluminous clastic sediments in the Whitehorse trough were its rapidly exhuming shoulders, the thin clastic intervals in the Hazelton Group in northwestern British Columbia were derived from local to subregional block uplifts that supplied mainly ca. 230–215 Ma zircons eroded from the plutonic roots of the Stuhini arc. Lesser components include late Paleozoic (ca. 350–330 Ma) zircons from Stikinia’s basement and penecontemporaneous (ca. 205–172 Ma) zircons from Hazelton volcanic/subvolcanic sources. Reexamination of the four main volcanic fields that make up the lower Hazelton Group suggests that the main Hazelton volcanic belt formed a southward-convex magmatic arc from eastern Stikinia across the Skeena arch, including the Toodoggone and Telkwa belts, with the Spatsizi and Stewart-Iskut regions of northwestern British Columbia in its back-arc. The Whitehorse trough and Hazelton belt represent a collision zone to active arc pair. Southward advance of the arc and counterclockwise rotation of the Stikinia microplate contributed to closure against the Quesnellia arc and assembly of the inner Canadian Cordilleran terrane collage.
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Differences between soil and air temperatures: Implications for geological reconstructions of past climate
Peter Molnar
Abstract: Among quantities of interest in paleoclimate, the mean annual air temperature, Ta, directly over the surface looms prominently. Most geologic estimates of past temperatures from continental regions, however, quantify temperatures of the soil or other material below the surface, Ts, and in general Ta < Ts. Both theory and data from the FLUXNET2015 data set of surface energy balance indicate systematic dependences of temperature differences ΔT = TsT a and also of Bowen ratios—ratios of sensible to latent heat fluxes from surface to the atmosphere—on the nature of the land-surface cover. In cold regions, with mean annual temperatures ≲5 °C, latent heat flux tends to be small, and values of ΔT can be large, 3–5 °C or larger. Over wet surfaces, latent heat fluxes dominate sensible heat fluxes, and values of both ΔT and Bowen ratios commonly are small. By contrast, over arid surfaces that provide only limited moisture to the overlying atmosphere, the opposite holds. Both theory and observation suggest the following, albeit approximate, mean annual values of Δ T: for wetlands, 1 °C; forests, 1 ± 1 °C; shrublands, 3–4 °C; savannas, 3.5 °C < ΔT < 5.5 °C; grasslands, 1 °C where wet to 3 °C where arid; and deserts, 4–6 °C. As geological tools for inferring past land-surface conditions improve, these approximate values of Δ T will allow geologic estimates of past mean annual surface temperatures, Ts, to be translated into estimates of past mean annual air temperatures, Ta.
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Quantitative mapping of dolomitization using close-range hyperspectral imaging: Kimmeridgian carbonate ramp, Alacón, NE Spain
Tobias H. Kurz; Galo San Miguel; Dominique Dubucq; Jeroen Kenter; Veronique Miegebielle ...
Abstract: Geological models from outcrop analogues are often utilized as a guide, or soft constraint, for distributing reservoir properties in subsurface models. In carbonate outcrops, combined sequence stratigraphic, sedimentological, and petrographic studies constrain the heterogeneity of geobodies and diagenetic processes, including dolomitization, at multiple scales. High-resolution digital outcrop modeling further aids geometric mapping, geobody definition, and statistical analysis, though its usefulness for detailed mineralogical and lithological mapping is limited. Hyperspectral imaging offers enhanced spectral resolution for mapping subtle mineralogical differences. In both outcrops and subsurface, differences in carbonate composition can provide key information for distributing porosity and permeability, yet this mapping is highly challenging in field studies due to access difficulties, visible material differences, and sampling resolution. Spectral analysis of limestone–dolomite ratios conducted in laboratory studies indicates theoretical measures for quantitative identification and mapping of dolomite degrees within carbonate rocks. In this study, close-range hyperspectral imaging is applied to outcrops of the Alacón Member, Barranco del Mortero, northeastern Spain, to identify exposed limestone–dolomite geobodies and to quantify the degree of dolomitization across outcrop faces. Hyperspectral imaging is supplemented with photogrammetric outcrop modeling, field spectroscopy, and laboratory sample analysis for empirical validation and uncertainty analysis. Hyperspectral mapping shows that earlier fieldwork utilizing visual inspection of difficult to access outcrop surfaces had overestimated the amount of dolomite in the outcrop. Results indicate that hyperspectral imaging identified dolomite bodies more accurately and reliably than conventional field methods and facilitates the mapping of dolomite contribution in areas modified by dedolomitization, where dolomite content changes by more than ~20%.
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Eocene dike orientations across the Washington Cascades in response to a major strike-slip faulting episode and ridge-trench interaction
Robert B. Miller; Kathleen I. Bryant; Brigid Doran; Michael P. Eddy; Franco P. Raviola ...
Abstract: The northern Cascade Mountains in Washington (USA) preserve an exceptional shallow to mid-crustal record of Eocene transtension marked by dextral strike-slip faulting, intrusion of dike swarms and plutons, rapid non-marine sedimentation, and ductile flow and rapid cooling in parts of the North Cas- cades crystalline core. Transtension occurred during ridge-trench interaction with the formation of a slab window, and slab rollback and break-off occurred shortly after collision of the Siletzia oceanic plateau at ca. 50 Ma. Dike swarms intruded a ≥1250 km2 region between ca. 49.3 Ma and 44.9 Ma, and orientations of more than 1500 measured dikes coupled with geochronologic data provide important snapshots of the regional strain field. The mafic Teanaway dikes are the southernmost and most voluminous of the swarms. They strike NE (mean = 036°) and average ~15 m in thickness. To the north, rhyolitic to basaltic dikes overlap spatially with 49.3–46.5 Ma, mainly granodioritic plutons, but they typically predate the nearby plutons by ca. 500 k.y. The average orientations of five of the six dike domains range from 010° to 058°; W-NW– to NW–striking dikes characterize one domain and are found in lesser amounts in a few other domains. Overall, the mean strike for all Eocene dikes is 035°, and the average extension direction (305°–125°) is oblique to the strike (~320°) of the North Cascades orogen. Extension by diking reached ~45% in one >7-km-long transect through the Teanaway swarm and ranged from ~5% to locally ~79% in shorter transects across other swarms, which corresponds to a minimum of ~12 km of extension. The dominant NE-striking dikes are compatible with the dextral motion on the N- to NW-striking (~355–320°) regional strike-slip faults. Some of the W–NW- to NW-striking dikes were arguably influenced by pre-existing faults, shear fractures, and foliations, and potentially in one swarm where both NE- and lesser W-NW–striking dikes are present, by a switch in principal stress axes induced by dike emplacement. Alternatively, the W-NW– to NW-striking dikes may reflect a younger regional strain field, as ca. 49.3–47.5 Ma U-Pb zircon ages of the NE-striking dikes are older than those of the few dated W-NW– to NW-trending dikes. In one scenario, NE-striking dikes intruded during an interval when strain mainly reflected dextral strike-slip faulting, and the younger dikes record a switch to more arc-normal extension. Diking ended as magmatism migrated into a N-S–trending belt west of the North Cascade core that marks the initiation of the ancestral Cascade arc.
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