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Book Chapter

Topographic constraints on models of lithospheric stretching of the Basin and Range province, western United States

By
Larry Mayer
Larry Mayer
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Published:
January 01, 1986

The broad uplift of the Basin and Range province can be described by a two-layer thinning model in which the crustal and subcrustal portions of the lithosphere are thinned by different amounts. Thinning of the lithosphere to the base of the crust can be accomplished by either asthenospheric diapir penetration or by sublithospheric erosion, both resulting in thermal expansion and uplift. The age of crustal extension in the Basin and Range indicates that conduction alone is not likely to be the mechanism for lithospheric heat input because of timing constraints. Application of the two-layer stretching model of Hellinger and Sclater (1983) suggests that the regional topographic features of the Basin and Range province can be largely explained using a sublithospheric thinning factor of γ = 1 and crustal stretching factors between β = 1 and β = 1.33, depending on location. Larger stretching factors are reasonable but may require the assumption of a thickened lithosphere prior to the onset of thinning. Many of the characteristics of the Basin and Range province, such as the location of its eastern boundary, fault geometry, and differences between its northern and southern sections, were strongly influenced by prior tectonic events and are therefore unique to western North America.

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Contents

GSA Special Papers

Extensional Tectonics of the Southwestern United States: A Perspective on Processes and Kinematics

Larry Mayer
Larry Mayer
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Geological Society of America
Volume
208
ISBN print:
9780813722085
Publication date:
January 01, 1986

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