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Abstract

Thick nonmarine sequences with similar facies and geometry may accumulate in basins that develop adjacent to strike-slip faults. Herein we compare three basins of different age and size whose tectonic and depositional characteristics suggest a similar origin and history.

The Hornelen Basin developed during the Middle and possibly Early Devonian in western Norway. The basin is bounded on the north and south by east-striking faults, and the northern fault is considered to have been a zone of major right-slip movement. The basin is 60-70 km long, 15-25 km wide, and about 1,250 km2 in areal extent; its cumulative fill of 25,000 m was deposited at an estimated rate of 2.5 m/1,000 yr. The Ridge Basin developed during the Miocene and Pliocene between the right-lateral San Gabriel and San Andreas faults in southern California. The basin is 30-40 km long, 6-15 km wide, and about 400 km2 in areal extent; its cumulative fill of 7,000-11,000 m was deposited at an estimated rate of about 3 m/1,000 yr. The three Little Sulphur Creek Basins probably developed between 4 and 2 Ma along the east side of the right-lateral Maacama fault zone in northern California. These basins cumulatively are about 12 km long, 1.5 to 2 km wide, and about 15 km2 in areal extent; their cumulative fill of 5,000 m was deposited at an estimated rate of about 2.5 m/1,000 yr.

Coarse sedimentary breccia, which constitutes a relatively small volume of the fill, was deposited in each of these basins along the active right-slip fault margin as talus, landslide, and small but steep debris-flow-dominated alluvial fans. Along other margins of the basins, a much larger volume of the fill accumulated as larger streamflow-dominated alluvial fans, braided-stream, meandering-stream, fan-delta, and deltaic deposits. Lacustrine deposits that include turbidites and, locally in Ridge Basin, chemical precipitates, accumulated in the centers of the basins. The basin floors are generally tilted toward the margins with active right-slip faults so that the basin axes and the depocenters are subparallel to, and shifted toward, this margin. Sediment was transported toward the basin center from surrounding highlands and then longitudinally down the basin axis. The basin fills were syn-depositionally faulted and post-depositionally folded into large plunging synclines. The basins lengthened over time and contain thicknesses of sedimentary rocks that are comparable to or greater than their widths.

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