Late Cenozoic Vertical Motions of the Coachella Valley Using Apatite U-Th/He and 4/3He Thermochronometry
Abstract:The Coachella Valley of southern California (USA) is a late Cenozoic transform-related sedimentary basin created by top-to-the-east extension on the West Salton detachment fault and dextral strike-slip offset on the San Andreas fault (Axen and Fletcher, 1998), which has continued to subside as a result of northeastward tilting since initiation of the San Jacinto fault ca. 1.2 Ma. Though it is generally agreed that these large regional faults are responsible for creation of high relief and deep subsidence in the Coachella Valley, the timing, magnitude, and geometries of fault offsets on these structures are still debated. This project applies an integrated source-to-sink approach to investigate tectonic models for evolution of the Pacific-North American plate boundary as recorded in the world-class natural laboratory of the Coachella Valley.
In this study we integrate new thermochronometry-constrained kinematic models with tectonostratigraphic interpretations to help quantify the timing, rates, and magnitudes of tectonically driven vertical crustal motions and resulting mass fluxes. We sampled bedrock for U-Th/He (A-He) thermochronometry in the Mecca Hills, Santa Rosa, San Jacinto, and Little San Bernardino Mountains in both spatially focused and widely distributed areas. We also present new results from apatite 4/3He thermochronometry to help constrain the most recent exhumation histories. A-He results reveal spatially variable exhumation ages. The southwest Santa Rosa Mountains experienced late Miocene-early Pliocene exhumation along their southwest flank, while new A-He ages from ranges bounding Coachella Valley reveal complex uplift histories. We integrate our data set with previously published thermochronometric data to improve a regional synthesis of late Cenozoic vertical motions of the Coachella Valley.