Structural Style and Tectonic Evolution of the Albuquerque Basin Segment of the Rio Grande Rift, New Mexico, U.S.A.
Published:January 01, 1994
L.R. Russell, S. Snelson, 1994. "Structural Style and Tectonic Evolution of the Albuquerque Basin Segment of the Rio Grande Rift, New Mexico, U.S.A.", Interior Rift Basins, Susan M. Landon, Anny B. Coury
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The Albuquerque basin, located in the central portion of the Rio Grande rift, is filled by 7350 m (24,000 ft) of Tertiary clastic sediments deposited on a "basement" of Mesozoic and Paleozoic sedimentary rocks and Precambrian crystalline rocks. The basin has been a center of Cenozoic volcanic activity over the last 37 Ma.
The geophysical signature of the Rio Grande rift is grossly similar to the Basin and Range province, being characterized by thin crust, anomalously low upper mantle seismic velocity, and velocity inversion in the upper crust. Additionally, there are high levels of shallow seismicity, abnormally high heat flow, regionally low Bouguer gravity values, and anomalously high electrical conductivities at shallow to mid-crustal depths.
Detailed examination of regional seismic reflection data, supplemented by well control and field work, has demonstrated that the Albuquerque basin is asymmetric and structurally complex, consisting of two subbasins downdropped along low-angle to listric, normal faults of opposing structural polarity, some of which flatten at depths of about 10 km (6 mi). The northern subbasin has been downdropped along a major west-dipping, listric normal fault system, whereas the southern subbasin is bordered by a system of major, east-dipping, low-angle normal faults. The two sub-basins are separated by a complex, mid-basin transverse structural zone that accommodates the differential extension and polarity change between the basins.
Palinspastic restorations show that the amount of extension in the Albuquerque basin ranges from 17% in the north basin to at least 28–30% in the south basin.
Seismic and outcrop evidence suggest that preexisting structures in the Precambrian basement rocks, in part, may have controlled the geometry of Tertiary structures in this region.
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Interior Rift Basins
Not only are rift basins the foundation for much of the geologic history of the earth, but they also are very attractive areas for hydrocarbon accumulations. Klemme stated that this geographic area has provided significant hydrocarbon reserves: "By area, these basins represent slightly over 5% of the world's basins (50% productive). However, high recovery has resulted, as they contain 10% of the world's present reserves (12% of the oil reserves and 4% of the gas reserves)." The rift basins discussed in this volume are only a few of the productive and, more importantly, potentially productive rift basins in the world. The term "rift" was coined by Gregory (1896) for the graben that now bears his name in the Kenyan portion of the East African rift system. The study of geology of rift basins began in the Rhine graben. The discovery of hydrocarbons in rift basins about the turn of the century provided new motivation for understanding these basins. This publication was initiated by the AAPG Publications Committee in 1985 and contributors were invited to write. AAPG designed their "World Petroleum Basins" series and sought to publish the definitive volume on each of several basin types. In this volume, "Interior Rift Basins," a detailed, 3-paper overview was written about the Suez Rift basin as representative of interior rift basins. The key papers were followed by less detailed reviews of three other selected interior basins: Pripyat and Dnieper-Donets Basins; Reconcavo Basin, Brazil; Albuquerque Basin Segment of the Rio Grande Rift.