The timing of fault motion in Death Valley from Illite Age Analysis of fault gouge

Tuesday, 16 December 2014: 8:30 AM
Erin Anne Lynch, University of Michigan Ann Arbor, Ann Arbor, MI, United States, Samuel H Haines, Chevron Energy Technology Corp, Houston, TX, United States and Ben Van der Pluijm, University of Michigan, Earth and Environmental Sciences, Ann Arbor, MI, United States
We constrained the timing of fluid circulation and associated fault motion in the Death Valley region of the US Basin and Range Province from Illite Age Analysis (IAA) of fault gouge at seven Low-Angle Normal Fault (LANF) exposures in the Black Mountains and Panamint Mountains, and in two nearby areas. 40Ar/39Ar ages of neoformed, illitic clay minerals in these fault zones range from 2.8 Ma to 18.6 Ma, preserving asynchronous fault motion across the region that corresponds to an evolving history of crustal block movements during Neogene extensional deformation. From north to south, along the western side of the Panamint Range, the Mosaic Canyon fault yields an authigenic illite age of 16.9±2.9 Ma, the Emigrant fault has ages of less than 10-12 Ma at Tucki Mountain and Wildrose Canyon, and an age of 3.6±0.17 Ma was obtained for the Panamint Front Range LANF at South Park Canyon. Across Death Valley, along the western side of the Black Mountains, Ar ages of clay minerals are 3.2±3.9 Ma, 12.2±0.13 Ma and 2.8±0.45 Ma for the Amargosa Detachment, the Gregory Peak Fault and the Mormon Point Turtleback detachment, respectively. Complementary analysis of the δH composition of neoformed clays shows a primarily meteoric source for the mineralizing fluids in these LANF zones. The ages fall into two geologic timespans, reflecting activity pulses in the Middle Miocene and in the Upper Pliocene. Activity on both of the range front LANFs does not appear to be localized on any single portion of these fault systems. Middle Miocene fault rock ages of neoformed clays were also obtained in the Ruby Mountains (10.5±1.2 Ma) to the north of the Death Valley region and to the south in the Whipple Mountains (14.3±0.19 Ma). The presence of similar, bracketed times of activity indicate that LANFs in the Death Valley region were tectonically linked, while isotopic signatures indicate that faulting pulses involved surface fluid penetration.