GSA Connects 2021 in Portland, Oregon

Paper No. 70-5
Presentation Time: 9:05 AM


LUTZ, Brandon, Earth & Environmental Science Dept, New Mexico Tech, 801 Leroy Pl, Socorro, NM 87801-4681, AXEN, Gary, New Mexico Inst Mining and TechnologyDept. Earth & Environmental Science, 801 Leroy Pl, Socorro, NM 87801-4681, VAN WIJK, Jolante, Earth and Environmental Sciences Division, Los Alamos National Laboratory, MS D443, Los Alamos, NM 87544 and PHILLIPS, Fred, Earth & Environmental Science Dept, New Mexico Tech, 801 Leroy Place`, Socorro, NM 87801

Continental rupture requires shear zones that penetrate the entire lithospheric column, but observational constraints on whole-lithosphere shear are rare. We document the formation of a dextral, whole-lithosphere shear zone in the Death Valley Region (DVR), southwest USA. Dextral deflections of depth gradients in the lithosphere-asthenosphere boundary and Moho are stacked vertically, defining a 20-50 km-wide, lower lithospheric shear zone with 55 ± 15 km shear. These underlie an upper-crustal fault zone that accrued 52 ± 9 km of dextral slip since ca. 8-6 Ma, when we infer that whole-lithosphere shear began. This dextral offset is less than net dextral offset on the upper-crustal fault zone (82 ± 8 km, ca. 13-0 Ma) and total upper-crustal extension (~250 km, ca. 16-0 Ma). We infer that, before 8-6 Ma, weak middle crust decoupled upper crustal deformation from deformation in the lower crust and mantle lithosphere. Between 16 and 7 Ma, detachment slip thinned, uplifted, cooled, and thus strengthened, the middle crust, which is exposed in metamorphic core complexes co-located with the whole-lithosphere shear zone. Mid-crustal strengthening coupled the layered lithosphere vertically and therefore enabled whole-lithosphere dextral shear. Where thick crust exists (as in pre-16 Ma DVR), mid-crustal strengthening is probably a necessary condition for whole-lithosphere shear.
  • Lutz_GSA_FALL2021.pptx (45.2 MB)