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Previous paleomagnetic work in the north-central Rio Grande rift (RGR) of northern New Mexico has demonstrated the presence of counterclockwise paleomagnetic rotations, possibly due to left-lateral shearing across the rift. To improve the spatial coverage and resolution of the intrarift rotation, we analyzed the late Tertiary sediments within the exposed Española Basin for paleomagnetic rotations. From five sites broadly distributed across the rift, the amount of rotation varies from little on the eastern edge to over 20° counterclockwise in the central and western rift. If interpreted as tectonic net rotation axes, the amount of rotation varies from 10 to 24°. Gently northeast plunging net rotation axis orientations in the eastern part of the rift indicate dominantly extension-related deformation. Steeper axis inclinations near the center and western part of the rift and Embudo accommodation zone indicate the presence of increased horizontal shearing in these regions. The paleomagnetic data show that the north-central Rio Grande rift is not rotating as a unit but rather consists of a number of smaller independently, counterclockwise-rotating blocks.

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