Slip re-orientation in the oblique Abiquiu embayment, northern Rio Grande rift

Friday, 18 December 2015
Poster Hall (Moscone South)
Yiduo Liu, Michael Andrew Murphy and Ross A Andrea, University of Houston, Houston, TX, United States
Traditional models of oblique rifting predict that an oblique fault accommodates both dip-slip and strike-slip kinematics. However, recent analog experiments suggest that slip can be re-oriented to almost pure dip-slip on oblique faults if a preexisting weak zone is present at the onset of oblique extension. In this study, we use fault slip data from the Abiquiu embayment in northern Rio Grande rift to test the new model.

The Rio Grande rift is a Cenozoic oblique rift extending from southern Colorado to New Mexico. From north to south, it comprises three major half grabens (San Luis, Española, and Albuquerque). The Abiquiu embayment is a sub-basin of the San Luis basin in northern New Mexico. Rift-border faults are generally older and oblique to the trend of the rift, whereas internal faults are younger and approximately N-S striking, i.e. orthogonal to the regional extension direction. Rift-border faults are deep-seated in the basement rocks while the internal faults only cut shallow stratigraphic sections. It has been suggested by many that inherited structures may influence the Rio Grande rifting. Particularly, Laramide structures (and possibly the Ancestral Rockies as well) that bound the Abiquiu embayment strike N- to NW.

Our data show that internal faults in the Abiquiu embayment exhibit almost pure dip-slip (rake of slickenlines = 90º ± 15º), independent of their orientations with respect to the regional extension direction. On the contrary, border faults show two sets of rakes: almost pure dip-slip (rake = 90º ± 15º) where the fault is sub-parallel to the foliation, and moderately-oblique (rake = 30º ± 15º) where the fault is high angle to the foliation. We conclude that slip re-orientation occurs on most internal faults and some oblique border faults under the influence of inherited structures. Regarding those border faults on which slip is not re-oriented, we hypothesize that it may be caused by the Jemez volcanism or small-scale mantle convection.