Morphology, structure and evolution of California Continental Borderland restraining bends
Published:January 01, 2007
M. R. Legg, C. Goldfinger, M. J. Kamerling, J. D. Chaytor, D. E. Einstein, 2007. "Morphology, structure and evolution of California Continental Borderland restraining bends", Tectonics of Strike-Slip Restraining and Releasing Bends, W. D. Cunningham, P. Mann
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Exceptional examples of restraining and releasing bend structures along major strike-slip fault zones are found in the California continental Borderland. Erosion in the deep sea is diminished, thereby preserving the morphology of active oblique fault deformation. Long-lived deposition of turbidites and other marine sediments preserve a high-resolution geological record of fault zone deformation and regional tectonic evolution. Two large restraining bends with varied structural styles are compared to derive a typical morphology of Borderland restraining bends. A 60-km-long, 15° left bend in the dextral San Clemente Fault creates two primary deformation zones. The southeastern uplift involves ‘soft’ turbidite sediments and is expressed as a broad asymmetrical ridge with right-stepping en echelon anticlines and local pull-apart basins at minor releasing stepovers along the fault. The northwest uplift involves more rigid sedimentary and possibly igneous or metamorphic basement rocks creating a steep-sided, narrow and more symmetrical pop-up. The restraining bend terminates in a releasing stepover basin at the NW end, but curves gently into a transtensional releasing bend to the SE. Seismic stratigraphy indicates that the uplift and transpression along this bend occurred within Quaternary times. The 80-km-long, 30–40° left bend in the San Diego Trough–Catalina fault zone creates a large pop-up structure that emerges to form Santa Catalina Island. This ridge of igneous and metamorphic basement rocks has steep flanks and a classic ‘rhomboid’ shape. For both major restraining bends, and most others in the Borderland, the uplift is asymmetrical, with the principal displacement zone lying along one flank of the pop-up. Faults within the pop-up structure are very steep dipping and subvertical for the principal displacement zone. In most cases, a Miocene basin has been structurally inverted by the transpression. Development of major restraining bends offshore of southern California appears to result from reactivation of major transform faults associated with Mid-Miocene oblique rifting during the evolution of the Pacific–North America plate boundary. Seismicity offshore of southern California demonstrates that deformation along these major strike-slip fault systems continues today.
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Tectonics of Strike-Slip Restraining and Releasing Bends
Restraining and releasing bends are common, but enigmatic features of strike-slip fault systems occurring in all crustal environments and at regional to microscopic scales of observation. Regional-scale restraining bends are sites of mountain building, transpressional deformation and basement exhumation, whereas releasing bends are sites of topographic subsidence, transtensional deformation, basin sedimentation and possible volcanism and economic mineralization. Because restraining and releasing bends often occur as singular self-contained domains of complex deformation, they are appealing natural laboratories for Earth scientists to study fault processes, earthquake seismology, active faulting and sedimentation, fault and fluid-flow relationships, links between tectonics and topography, tectonic and erosional controls on exhumation, and tectonic geomorphology.
This volume addresses the tectonic complexity and diversity of strike-slip restraining and releasing bends with 18 contributions divided into four thematic sections: (1) a topical review of fault bends and their global distribution; (2) bends, sedimentary basins and earthquake hazards; (3) restraining bends, transpressional deformation and basement controls on development; (4) releasing bends, transtensional deformation and fluid flow.