News Release

New articles for Geosphere posted online first

Peer-Reviewed Publication

Geological Society of America

1 December 2022
The Geological Society of America
Release no. 22-70
Contact: Kea Giles

For Immediate Release

New Articles for Geosphere Posted Online First

Boulder, Colo., USA: GSA’s dynamic online journal, Geosphere, posts articles online regularly. Locations and topics studied include Anadarko Basin, USA; UAV use using cognitive science principles; and Ubehebe Crater, Death Valley. You can find these articles at .

Oceanic intraplate faulting as a pathway for deep hydration of the lithosphere: Perspectives from the Caribbean
Brandon T. Bishop; Sungwon Cho; Linda Warren; Lillian Soto-Cordero; Patricia Pedraza ...
Abstract: The recycling of water into the Earth’s mantle via hydrated oceanic lithosphere is believed to have an important role in subduction zone seismicity at intermediate depths. Hydration of oceanic lithosphere has been shown to drive double planes of intermediate-depth, Wadati-Benioff zone seismicity at subduction zones. However, observations from trenches show that pervasive normal faulting causes hydration ~25 km into the lithosphere and can explain neither locations where separations of 25–40 km between Wadati-Benioff zone planes are observed nor the spatial variability of the lower plane in these locations, which suggests that an additional mechanism of hydration exists. We suggest that intraplate deformation of >50-m.y.-old lithosphere, an uncommon and localized process, drives deeper hydration. To test this, we relocated the 25 November 2018 6.0 M W Providencia, Colombia, earthquake mainshock and 575 associated fore- and aftershocks within the interior of the Caribbean oceanic plate and compared these with receiver functions (RF) that sampled the fault at its intersection with the Mohorovičić discontinuity. We examined possible effects of velocity model, initial locations of the earthquakes, and seismic-phase arrival uncertainty to identify robust features for comparison with the RF results. We found that the lithosphere ruptured from its surface to a depth of ~40 km along a vertical fault and an intersecting, reactivated normal fault. We also found RF evidence for hydration of the mantle affected by this fault. Deeply penetrating deformation of lithosphere like that we observe in the Providencia region provides fluid pathways necessary to hydrate oceanic lithosphere to depths consistent with the lower plane of Wadati-Benioff zones.
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Illuminating geology in areas of limited exposure using texture shading of lidar digital terrain models
Richard W. Allmendinger; Paul Karabinos
Abstract: Regions of sparse exposure challenge geologic mappers because of limited information available on the underlying structure and continuity of the map units. We introduce here a little-known technique for post-processing bare earth digital terrain models (DTMs) that can dramatically improve knowledge of the underlying structure in covered areas. Texture shading enhances changes in slope and does not suffer from limitations introduced by artificial illumination required in hillshade or shaded relief images. When this technique is applied to lidar DTMs, layers of rock units with variable resistance to erosion can be clearly imaged, even in areas with limited outcrop. This technique enables one to collect comprehensive orientation data in areas of deformed sedimentary strata, assess the continuity of metamorphic and igneous rock units, and depict basement fracture sets. We demonstrate the use of texture shading in the Valley and Ridge of northern Pennsylvania, metamorphic rocks in the Berkshire Hills of western Massachusetts and Green Mountains of Vermont, and glacial deposits in the Finger Lakes region of upstate New York (northeastern United States).
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Strain partitioning in the Moine Nappe, northernmost Scotland
Sarah Collier Southern; Sharon Mosher; Omero Felipe Orlandini
Abstract: Extreme strain in the form of flattening or constriction during noncoaxial shear in ductile shear zones provides a record of ductile thrust system dynamics and the overall tectonic evolution. Within the Moine Nappe in northern Scotland, between the Ben Hope and Moine thrusts, the Strathan Conglomerate displays apparent strain partitioning with extreme flattening (e.g., laterally extensive sheets of deformed pebbles with aspect ratios of 134:113:1 and 88–92% estimated thinning) adjacent to the overlying Ben Hope Thrust and extreme constriction (e.g., rods with aspect ratios of 21:4:1 and estimated extension of 1000%) lower in the nappe package. We demonstrate that partitioning of strain is between its intensity and how deformation is manifested. Field, microstructural, and crystallographic orientation data from this study indicate that both areas were deformed by WNW-directed noncoaxial shear and coaxial flattening under amphibolite-facies conditions. Adjacent to the Ben Hope thrust, flattening was pervasive during noncoaxial shear, whereas beneath and within the Moine Nappe package, polyphase folding dominated. There, early, large-scale folds (F2) rotated into the transport direction. Subsequent transport-parallel (F3) folds and tubular sheath folds formed on the F2 limbs and were dismembered to form rods. No evidence of constriction is observed; instead, pervasive noncoaxial shear was accompanied by minor flattening under decreasing temperature conditions. Thus, these S-tectonites in the Moine Nappe are the result of concentrated flattening of pebbles into sheets during WNW-directed shear, whereas the L-tectonites result from heterogeneously distributed shear and folding, coupled with minor flattening, which produced rods without constriction.
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Late Paleozoic cratonal sink: Distally sourced sediment filled the Anadarko Basin (USA) from multiple source regions
Baylee E. Kushner; Gerilyn S. Soreghan; Michael J. Soreghan
Abstract: The Anadarko Basin (south-central USA) is the deepest basin on the North American craton and occupies a region largely surrounded by major, late Paleozoic plate-margin (Marathon-Ouachita-Appalachian) and intraplate (Ancestral Rocky Mountains) orogenic systems, albeit a distal arm of the latter. The Anadarko Basin hosts an exceptionally voluminous record of Pennsylvanian strata, and much of this fill has been attributed to erosion of the adjacent Wichita uplift—composed of granitic and rhyolitic rocks of Cambrian age—separated from the basin by a fault zone exhibiting 12 km of vertical separation. This work incorporates thin-section petrography (102 samples) and U-Pb detrital zircon geochronology of sandstone samples (12 samples) from core and outcrop of the Middle Pennsylvanian Red Fork Sandstone (and equivalents) as well as slightly younger Upper Pennsylvanian units (Tonkawa, Chelsea, and Gypsy sandstones) in order to interpret drainage pathways and evolution of those pathways toward and into the Anadarko Basin (Oklahoma) and evaluate the relative importance of the major provenance regions. Our petrographic analysis indicates sandstones with arkosic compositions are limited to the region immediately adjacent to (north of) the Wichita uplift. All remaining samples, which reflect the vast bulk of sediment in the depocenter, including sediment on the northern and eastern Anadarko shelf, are litharenites. Analysis of kernel density plots of the U-Pb ages of detrital zircons together with multidimensional scaling analysis of the Middle Pennsylvanian samples indicate three groups of similar provenance: (1) samples dominated by Cambrian ages from locations directly adjacent to the Wichita uplift; (2) samples dominated by Neoproterozoic ages from locations along the northern shelf of the Anadarko Basin; and (3) samples dominated by Mesoproterozoic ages from locations along the eastern Anadarko shelf and the basin center. These samples are spatially discrete, indicating partitioning of drainage networks during the Middle Pennsylvanian, with two continental-scale fluvial systems entering the Anadarko Basin from the north (transversely) and east (axially). The lack of Cambrian ages in the depocenter and (northern) shelf samples indicate that the Wichita uplift supplied only limited sediment to the basin; sediment derived from the uplift was trapped in fringing fans directly adjacent to the uplift. In contrast to the patterns exhibited by the Middle Pennsylvanian samples, Upper Pennsylvanian samples exhibit more uniform U-Pb ages across the basin. This indicates the relatively rapid evolution of the Appalachian-derived northerly and easterly drainages into an integrated system that flowed axially across the (overfilled) mid-continent basins to the ultimate continental sink in the Anadarko Basin.
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Strategies for effective unmanned aerial vehicle use in geological field studies based on cognitive science principles
Kathryn M. Bateman; Randolph T. Williams; Thomas F. Shipley; Basil Tikoff; Terry Pavlis ...
Abstract: Field geologists are increasingly using unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs or drones), although their use involves significant cognitive challenges for which geologists are not well trained. On the basis of surveying the user community and documenting experts’ use in the field, we identified five major problems, most of which are aligned with well-documented limits on cognitive performance. First, the images being sent from the UAV portray the landscape from multiple different view directions. Second, even with a constant view direction, the ability to move the UAV or zoom the camera lens results in rapid changes in visual scale. Third, the images from the UAVs are displayed too quickly for users, even experts, to assimilate efficiently. Fourth, it is relatively easy to get lost when flying, particularly if the user is unfamiliar with the area or with UAV use. Fifth, physical limitations on flight time are a source of stress, which renders the operator less effective. Many of the strategies currently employed by field geologists, such as postprocessing and photogrammetry, can reduce these problems. We summarize the cognitive science basis for these issues and provide some new strategies that are designed to overcome these limitations and promote more effective UAV use in the field. The goal is to make UAV-based geological interpretations in the field possible by recognizing and reducing cognitive load.
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Foreland basin response to middle Cretaceous thrust belt evolution, southwestern Montana, USA
Cole T. Gardner; Emily S. Finzel; Justin A. Rosenblume; David M. Pearson
Abstract: The middle Cretaceous Blackleaf Formation records the first major transgression-regression of the Western Interior Seaway into the southwestern Montana retroforeland basin. Although Blackleaf sedimentology is well documented, sediment provenance and potential linkages with regional tectonics are not. Recent characterization of hinterland tectonics, fold-thrust belt detrital zircon signatures, and advances in high-n detrital zircon analysis allow for significant provenance refinement. We present new detrital zircon ages (n = 5468) from ten samples from the upper Blackleaf Formation (Intervals C and D) in southwestern Montana. Based on maximum depositional ages, sedimentation spanned from 106 to 92 Ma. Jurassic and Cretaceous grains were primarily derived from the older portion of the Cordilleran magmatic arc in western Idaho. Triassic and older grains were recycled from older central Idaho sedimentary strata inboard of the arc. Three depositional stages are identified based on statistical modeling of detrital age distributions. Stage 1 (106–104 Ma) records sourcing from lower Paleozoic strata in central Idaho. Stage 2 (105–101 Ma) records initial unroofing of upper Paleozoic–Triassic strata via propagation of the fold-thrust belt into eastern Idaho, accommodating shortening of Mississippian and younger rocks above the Lemhi Arch. Stage 3 (102–100 Ma) records continued unroofing in central Idaho down to Cambrian stratigraphic levels and distal mixing of sources in the eastern part of the basin. Exhumation in the fold-thrust belt beginning at ca. 105 Ma is coincident with margin-wide fault slip-rate increases. We infer that increased sedimentation rates and low-magnitude flexural loading from shallow thrusting in eastern Idaho drove clastic wedge progradation across the basin.
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Pyroclastic deposits of Ubehebe Crater, Death Valley, California, USA: Ballistics, pyroclastic surges, and dry granular flows
Greg A. Valentine; Judy Fierstein; James D.L. White
Abstract: We describe and interpret deposits associated with the final Ubehebe Crater-forming, phreatomagmatic explosive phase of the multivent, monogenetic Ubehebe volcanic center. Ubehebe volcano is located in Death Valley, California, USA. Pyroclastic deposits occur in four main facies: (1) lapilli- and block-dominated beds, (2) thinly bedded lapilli tuff, (3) laminated and cross-laminated ash, and (4) massive lapilli ash/tuff. Lapilli- and block-dominated beds are found mostly within several hundred meters of the crater and transition outward into discontinuous lenses of lapilli and blocks; they are interpreted to have been deposited by ballistic processes associated with crater-forming explosions. Thinly bedded lapilli tuff is found mainly within several hundred meters, and laminated and cross-laminated ash extends at least 9 km from the crater center. Dune forms are common within ~2 km of the crater center, while finer-grained, distal deposits tend to exhibit planar lamination. These two facies (thinly bedded lapilli tuff and laminated and cross-laminated ash) are interpreted to record multiple pyroclastic surges (dilute pyroclastic currents). Repeated couplets of coarse layers overlain by finer-grained, laminated horizons suggest that many or most of the surges were transient, likely recording individual explosions, and they traveled over complex topography in some areas. These two factors complicate the application of classical sediment-transport theory to quantify surge properties. However, dune- form data provide possible constraints on the relationships between suspended load sedimentation and bed-load transport that are consistent using two independent approaches. Massive lapilli ash/tuff beds occur in drainages below steep slopes and can extend up to ~1 km onto adjacent valley floors beneath large catchments. Although they are massive in texture, their grain-size characteristics are shared with laminated and cross-laminated ash facies, with which they are locally interbedded. These are interpreted to record concentrated granular flows sourced by remobilized pyroclastic surge deposits, either during surge transport or shortly after, while the surge deposits retained their elevated initial pore-gas pressures. Although similar surge-derived concentrated flows have been described elsewhere (e.g., Mount St. Helens, Washington, USA, and Soufriére Hills, Montserrat, West Indies), to our knowledge Ubehebe is the first case where such processes have been identified at a maar volcano. These concentrated flows followed paths that were independent of the pyroclastic surges and represent a potential hazard at similar maar volcanoes in areas with complex terrain.
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Cretaceous sequence stratigraphy of the northern Baltimore Canyon Trough: Implications for basin evolution and carbon storage
Kimberly E. Baldwin; Kenneth G. Miller; William J. Schmelz; Gregory S. Mountain; Leslie M. Jordan ...
Abstract: We evaluate the Cretaceous stratigraphy and carbon sequestration potential of the northern Baltimore Canyon Trough (NBCT) using >10,000 km of multi-channel seismic profiles integrated with geophysical logs, biostratigraphy, and lithology from 29 offshore wells. We identify and map six sequences resolved primarily at the stage level. Accommodation was dominated by thermal and non-thermal subsidence, though sequence boundaries correlate with regional and global sea-level changes, and the record is modified by igneous intrusion, active faulting, and changes in sediment supply and sources. Our stratigraphic maps illustrate a primary southern (central Appalachian) Early Cretaceous source that migrated northward during the Aptian and Albian. During the Cenomanian, sedimentation rates in the NBCT increased and depocenters shifted northward and landward. We show that deposition occurred in three phases: (1) earlier Cretaceous paleoenvironments were primarily terrestrial indicated by variable amplitude, chaotic seismic facies, serrated gamma logs, and heterolithic sandstones and mudstones with terrestrial microfossils; (2) the Albian to Cenomanian was dominated by deltaic paleoenvironments indicated by blocky, funnel-shaped, gamma-ray logs and clinoforms characterized by continuous high-amplitude seismic reflections with well-defined terminations; and (3) the Cenomanian and younger was marine shelf, inferred from mudstone-prone lithologies, peak gamma-ray values in well logs, and foraminiferal evidence. Long-term transgression and maximum water depths at the Cenomanian/Turonian boundary correlative with Ocean Anoxic Event 2 were followed by a regression and relative sea-level fall. We show that porous and permeable sandstones of three Aptian to Cenomanian highstand systems tracts are high-volume reservoirs for supercritical CO2 storage that are confined by overlying deep water mudstones.
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Topographic development of a compressional mountain range, the western Transverse Ranges of California, USA, resulted from localized uplift along individual structures and regional uplift from deeper shortening
N. Onderdonk; A.F. Garcia; C. Kelty; A. Farris; E. Tyler
Abstract: The western Transverse Ranges are a tectonically active mountain belt in southern California (USA) characterized by fast rates of shortening and rock uplift. Large drainages at the western end of this mountain belt, including the Santa Ynez River and its tributaries, transect regional west–northwest-striking reverse faults and folds. We used fluvial strath terraces within the Santa Ynez River watershed as geomorphic markers for measuring Quaternary rock uplift and deformation across these structures. Mapping, surveying, and numerical dating of these strath terraces in both hanging-wall and footwall blocks of the major reverse faults allow us to separate regional uplift from localized uplift along individual structures. Luminescence dates from 18 sites within the Santa Ynez River watershed show that the three prominent terrace levels present throughout the area formed between ca. 85 ka and 95 ka, 55 ka and 75 ka, and 30 ka and 45 ka. All three fluvial terrace straths grade into marine paleo-shore platforms along the coast that formed during sea-level highstands. The fluvial straths were formed as a result of lateral erosion during warm, dry climate intervals when vertical incision was temporarily arrested. Incision of the terraces followed during intervening periods of wet climate. Mapping and valley-long profiles of the terraces document deformation by faults and folds, and we infer minimum rock-uplift rates from the amount of incision below the terrace strath surfaces. Rock-uplift rates range from 0.3 mm/yr to 4.9 mm/yr, with faster rates in the hanging-wall blocks of the major reverse faults and slower rates in the footwall blocks. Rock-uplift rates calculated from strath terraces in the footwall blocks range from 0.3 mm/yr to 1.6 mm/yr, which indicates a regional component of uplift that results from deeper deformation. Higher rates of rock uplift in the hanging-wall blocks (0.5–4.9 mm/yr) are superposed on this regional component. Incremental rock-uplift rates calculated over three time intervals and differences in terrace deformation with age suggest that deformation rates across some structures have decreased over the past 85 k.y. We conclude that topographic growth of the western Transverse Ranges results from a combination of localized uplift along individual structures that varies both spatially and temporally and a more constant regional uplift that likely results from deeper ductile deformation or slip along detachment faults that have been inferred to underlie the area.
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GEOSPHERE articles are available at . Representatives of the media may obtain complimentary copies of GEOSPHERE articles by contacting Kea Giles at the address above. Please discuss articles of interest with the authors before publishing stories on their work, and please refer to GEOSPHERE in articles published. Non-media requests for articles may be directed to GSA Sales and Service,

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