Reprocessing and Interpretation of Vintage Seismic Reflection Data: Evidence for the Tectonic History of the Rocky Mountain Trench, Northwest Montana.

Tuesday, 16 December 2014
Mason Porter1, Marvin Andrew Speece2, Bradley Stephen Rutherford1 and Kurt N Constenius3, (1)Montana Tech of The University of Montana, Butte, MT, United States, (2)Montana Tech, Butte, MT, United States, (3)University of Arizona, Department of Geosciences, Tucson, AZ, United States
In 1983 Techno, Inc. collected five seismic reflection profiles in the region between Whitefish, Montana and the United States-Canada border. The poulter method was used to gather four of these profiles and one profile was collected using a vibroseis source. We are currently reprocessing these data in order to construct a regional geological interpretation. The profiles cover a key position in the hinterland of the Cordillera in the lee of the Lewis thrust salient where the east-northeast verging Lewis thrust fault system translated (horizontal displacement >100 km) and inverted a thick, strong slab of primarily Belt-Purcell rocks out of a deep Precambrian depositional basin onto a cratonic platform. In this event, Belt-Purcell rocks were thrust over complexly imbricated Phanerozoic strata in the foreland. Late Mesozoic compressional deformation was followed by Cenozoic extensional collapse of the over-thickened Cordillera and subsequent basin and range style deformation that produced an array of northwest trending grabens. Three of the seismic profiles cross the Rocky Mountain Trench; the Trench is a linear structure of regional dimension that is an expression of the extensional fragmentation of the Cordillera. Strong reflections, interpreted as sills encased within Lower Belt rocks (encountered in the Arco-Marathon 1 Paul Gibbs borehole), outline the complexly folded and faulted structure of the eastern limb of the Purcell anticlinorium. East of the Rocky Mountain Trench stratified reflections within Belt rocks clearly outline the Wigwam Thrust. Beneath the Whitefish Range, an apparent inflection in the strongly reflective basal Cambrian veneer marks the westerly increase in dip of the Rocky Mountain Basal Detachment. The dip contrast between the foreland and hinterland might be a manifestation of the tectonic loading of the Belt basin margin and the loading might have localized extension across the Rocky Mountain Trench.