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Abstract

We use seismic, field, core, borehole and vitrinite-reflectance data to constrain the development of the Newark Rift Basin, one of the largest and most thoroughly studied basins of the eastern North American rift system that formed during the break-up of Pangaea. These data provide critical information about the geometry of the preserved synrift section and the magnitude of post-rift erosion. We incorporate this information into a new structural restoration of the basin. Our work shows that the Newark Basin was initially narrow (<25 km) and markedly asymmetric; synrift strata show significant thickening towards the basin-bounding faults. Subsequently, the basin became wider (perhaps >100 km wide), deeper (up to 10 km) and less asymmetric; synrift strata exhibit subtle thickening towards the basin-bounding fault system. Several intrabasin faults dissected the Newark Basin after synrift deposition, and the basin fill was tilted (c. 10°NW) and folded. Erosion (up to 6 km) accompanied the intrabasin faulting, NW tilting and folding, significantly reducing the basin size. Our work suggests that the eastern North American rift system is characterized by a very broad zone of upper-crustal extension in which a few, wide, deep, long-lived, fault-bounded basins (like the Newark Basin) accommodated much of the extension.

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