Abstract

Differentially heaving bedrock has caused severe damage near the Denver metropolitan area. This paper describes heave-feature morphologies, the underlying bedrock framework, and their inter-relationship. The heave features are linear to curvilinear and may attain heights of 0.7 m (2.4 ft), widths of 58 m (190 ft), and lengths of 1,067 m (3,500 ft). They are nearly symmetrical to highly asymmetrical in cross section, with width-to-height ratios of 45:1 to 400:1, and most are oriented parallel with the mountain front. The bedrock consists of Mesozoic sedimentary formations having dip angles of 30 degrees to vertical to overturned. Mixed claystone-siltstone bedding sequences up to 36-m (118-ft) thick are common in the heave-prone areas, and interbeds of bentonite, limestone, or sandstone may be present. Highly fractured zones of weathered to variably weathered claystone extend to depths of 19.5 to 22.3 m (64 to 73 ft). Fracture spacings are 0.1 to 0.2 m (0.3 to 0.7 ft) in the weathered and variably weathered bedrock and up to 0.75 m (2.5 ft) in the underlying, unweathered bedrock. Curvilinear shear planes in the weathered claystone show thrust or reverse offsets up to 1.2 m (3.9 ft). Three associations between heave-feature morphologies and the geological framework are recognized: (1) Linear, symmetrical to asymmetrical heaves are associated with primary bedding composition changes. (2) Linear, highly asymmetrical heaves are associated with shear planes along bedding. (3) Curvilinear, highly asymmetrical heaves are associated with bedding-oblique shear planes.

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