Rheological control on the initial geometry of the Raft River detachment fault and shear zone, western United States

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Journal Article: Rheological control on the initial geometry of the Raft River detachment fault and shear zone, western United States

Abstract
The strain, exhumation history, and field orientation of a well-exposed shear zone and detachment fault in the Raft River Mountains of northwestern Utah, a Cordilleran metamorphic core complex, have been studied to determine the kinematics of ductile shearing and initial orientations of the shear zone and detachment fault. Mapping and strain and kinematic analysis indicate that the top-to-the-east Raft River shear zone initially developed parallel to an unconformity separating Archean rocks from overlying Proterozoic quartzite and schist for at least 24 km in the shear direction. Experimental rock deformation data from lithologies similar to the Archean and Proterozoic rocks suggest the unconformity represented a significant rheological boundary at the deformation temperatures; the base of the shear zone was localized along the boundary between relatively weak quartzite above and stronger monzogranite below. An extensive thermochronological database is used to reconstruct the position of the basement unconformity in temperature-lateral distance coordinates. The initial average dip of the shear zone and basement unconformity is estimated between 7° and 30°, assuming subhorizontal isotherms and geothermal gradients of 20°–40°C/km. The east dip of the unconformity at the onset of Miocene extension is interpreted to have resulted from late Eocene unroofing and flexure beneath a top-to-the-WNW extensional shear zone in the western Raft River, Grouse Creek, and Albion Mountains. The observations from the Raft River shear zone suggest that the orientation of some midcrustal shear zones may not reflect the predicted orientation for ductile faults according to ductile failure criteria but, rather, the orientation of rheological boundaries along which deformation is localized. Furthermore, detachment faults that are superimposed on mylonite during progressive displacement and footwall unroofing may use an inherited mechanical anisotropy from the mylonite, and their orientations may not reflect the predicted orientation of shear fractures in isotropic rock. The common parallelism between detachment faults and mylonitic foliation may indicate a mechanical and kinematic preference for localization of throughgoing brittle faults parallel to preexisting mylonitic foliation. Because of this preference, studies restricted to detachment faults which lack footwall mylonite or restricted to structural levels between the breakaway and mylonitic front have more bearing on the question of the initial dip of normal-sense shear fractures (faults) within the seismogenic crust.

Author 
M. Wells  








Published Journal 
Tectonics, 8/1/2001





DOI 
Not Provided
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Citation

M. Wells  . 8/1/2001. Rheological control on the initial geometry of the Raft River detachment fault and shear zone, western United States. Tectonics. (!) .


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