NEOGENE-QUATERNARY EVOLUTION AND DECREASES IN THROW RATES ON MAJOR FAULTS IN THE NORTHERN PALOMAS BASIN AND ITS STRUCTURAL BOUNDARY WITH THE ENGLE BASIN, SOUTHERN RIO GRANDE RIFT, NM
Dip changes, apatite-fission track ages, and stratigraphy across faults are used to infer a progressive decrease in throw rates since the early late Miocene. Post-6 Ma basin fill dips 0-2° whereas exposed Miocene strata dip 20-40° (as does Paleozoic bedrock of the MSM). These tilt changes, and apatite-fission track ages in the MSM of 8.3±3.8 and 9.9±2.2 Ma (2 sigma), indicate a notable decrease in tilt rates and footwall uplift, and presumably activity along major faults, between the late Miocene and early Pliocene. Using basin fill thickness changes and elevations of an offset contact, throw rates on the southern MSF decrease from 0.08 m/k.y. in the late Pliocene to 0.02-0.03 m/k.y. in the Quaternary. Offset of two geomorphic datums by the CNFZ indicate throw rates of 5 mm/k.y. for the past 800 k.y. and 0.1 to 2 mm/k.y. for the past ~600 k.y. The northern Hot Springs fault produced notable drag folding of latest(?) Miocene strata, yet does not offset a maar vent with an Ar/Ar age of 2.468±0.014 Ma, indicating no motion along the fault since this eruption. We propose that subsurface dike injection feeding numerous 2-2.5 Ma basaltic vents counteracted extensional strain, leading to the shut-down of the Hot Springs fault and abruptly decreasing rates along nearby faults amidst a long term slowing of regional extension.