A Fold Province in the Hinterland of the Sevier Orogenic Belt in Eastern Nevada: A Valley and Ridge in the Basin and Range

Tuesday, 16 December 2014
Sean P Long, University of Nevada, Reno, Reno, NV, United States
The overprinting effects of Cenozoic extensional tectonism hinder analysis of the style, geometry, and timing of Cordilleran contractional deformation in the hinterland of the Sevier fold-thrust belt in Nevada. To address this problem, a 1:250,000-scale paleogeologic map of eastern Nevada, showing spatial distributions of Paleozoic-Mesozoic rocks exposed beneath a Paleogene unconformity, divided out at the formation scale, is integrated with maps of dip magnitude for Paleozoic-Mesozoic and Tertiary rocks, published sedimentary thickness records, and a published reconstruction of Basin and Range extension, in order to define and regionally-correlate thrust faults and folds, and estimate the pre-extensional amplitude, wavelength, and limb dips of folds. A new structural province, the Eastern Nevada fold belt (ENFB) is defined, and consists of a 100-150 km-wide region containing as many as five 1st-order, N-trending folds that can be traced for map distances between 100-250 km, have amplitudes between 2-4 km, wavelengths between 20-40 km, pre-extensional limb dips typically between 10-30˚, and deform rocks as young as Jurassic and Early Cretaceous. No regional-scale thrust faults or decollemont horizons breach modern exposure levels in the ENFB. ENFB folds are interpreted to have formed above a deep (≥10 km below the Paleogene unconformity), blind decollemont or shear zone, perhaps the westward projection of the master decollemont of the Sevier fold-thrust belt.

Two additional structural provinces of the Sevier hinterland, the Central Nevada thrust belt (CNTB) and Western Utah thrust belt (WUTB), represent zones of N-striking, E-vergent thrust faults and folds that each accommodated ca. 10 km of shortening. Both thrust belts branch northward off of the Sevier thrust belt, and are interpreted to represent contemporary, interior components of the Sevier thrust system. The CNTB, WUTB, and the intervening ENFB collectively record low-magnitude (a few 10’s of km) upper-crustal shortening that accompanied Cretaceous detachment and translation of the Cordilleran passive margin basin 220 km eastward during Sevier orogenesis. Low deformation magnitudes in the Sevier hinterland are attributed to the high rheological competence of this thick basin.