2002 Denver Annual Meeting (October 27-30, 2002)

Paper No. 13
Presentation Time: 1:30 PM-5:30 PM


KIRSCHNER, David L. and O'BRIEN, Vanessa J., Saint Louis Univ, 3507 Laclede Ave, Saint Louis, MO 63103-2010, obrienvj@slu.edu

It is widely accepted that fluids play a fundamental role in the movement of thrust faults in foreland fold-and-thrust belts. We have begun a combined structure-geochemistry study of faults in the Rocky Mountain fold-and-thrust belt in order to provide more insight into the occurrence and role(s) of fluid in the deformation of thrust faults. We focus on faults exposed in the Sun River Canyon of Montana, an area that contains some of the best exposures of the Rocky Mountain fold-and-thrust belt in the U.S.

Samples were collected from two well exposed thrusts in the Canyon -- the Diversion and French thrusts. Both faults have thrust Mississippian dolostones over Cretaceous shales. Displacement exceeds several kilometers. Numerous small-displacement, subsidiary faults characterize the deformation in the hanging wall carbonates. The footwall shales accommodated more penetrative deformation, resulting in well developed foliation and small-scale folds.

Stable isotope data have been obtained from host rock samples and veins from these faults. The data delimit an arcuate trend in oxygen - carbon isotope space. Approximately 50 host rock carbonate samples from the hanging walls have carbon and oxygen isotope values ranging from +3 to 0 and 28 to 19 per mil, respectively. There is no apparent correlation between isotopic values and distance from thrust fault at either locality. Fifteen samples of fibrous slickensides on small-displacement faults in the hanging walls have similar carbon and lower oxygen isotope values (down to 16 per mil). And 15 veins that either post-date thrusting or are of indeterminate origin have carbon and oxygen isotope values down to -3 and 12 per mil, respectively.

The isotopic data collected during the initial stages of this project are similar to some results obtained several hundred kilometers north in the Front Ranges of the Canadian Rockies (Kirschner and Kennedy, JGR 2000) and in carbonte fold-thrust belts of the Swiss Helvetic Alps and Italian Apennines. These data are consistent with limited infiltration of fluid through fractures and minor faults into hanging walls of large-displacement thrust faults.