Configuration and Correlation of Fluvial Terrace Deposits In the Lower Rio Salado Valley: A Record of Magmatic Uplift and Active Normal Faulting in the Rio Grande Rift
Abstract:The Rio Salado is a western tributary of the Rio Grande whose valley is flanked by six major terrace levels. The Rio crosses several active rift-related normal faults and the active, mid-crustal Socorro Magma Body (SMB; a sill at 19 km depth that is actively doming the land surface), providing an unusual opportunity to explore the effects of deep magma emplacement and active faulting on the terraces.
Rio Salado terraces were mapped using a high-resolution DEM and digital color stereophotographs and were projected onto a valley-parallel vertical plane to construct longitudinal profiles. Three new soil pits were described to aid terrace correlation. A net incision rate of 0.41 ± 0.06 m/ka was inferred from the correlation of a major fill-cut terrace to the 122 ± 18 ka Airport surface ~25 km south of the Rio Salado. This incision rate is >1.5 times more rapid than estimated rates nearby or in other parts of New Mexico, but yields age estimates for other terraces that are consistent with soil development. Terrace gradients in the Rio Salado have increased through time, indicating either stream response to Rio Grande incision or footwall tilting from the Quaternary Loma Blanca fault (LBF). Two terraces in the LBF hanging wall are back-tilted relative to their footwall counterparts, suggesting a listric geometry for the LBF. However, two others (Qtf and Qtc) are east-tilted relative to their footwall counterparts. Both Qtf and Qtc merge eastward with the next youngest terrace in the flight, and Qtc is arched, consistent with an earlier episode of surface uplift above the SMB.
Future work will involve (a) additional terrace mapping over the SMB, (b) cosmogenic 36Cl depth profile dating of the Rio Salado terraces to determine incision rates, allow regional terrace correlations, and constrain fault-slip slip rates and the record of SMB-related surface uplift, and (c) numerical modeling of SMB inflation constrained by uplift signals.