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The Albuquerque Basin, located in the central portion of the Rio Grande rift, is filled by 7,350 m 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 m.y.

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. 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. Palinspastic restorations show that the amount of extension in the Albuquerque Basin ranges from 17% in the north basin to at least 28 to 30% in the south basin. The differential amount and polarity of extension between the two subbasins is taken up across a complex midbasin transverse structural zone/accommodation zone that seismically displays characteristics of a transtensional, negative-flower structure.

General agreement on overall structural style exists relative to COCORP interpretations of the structure of the south basin. However, an alternative interpretation of the COCORP data is presented that advocates fold geometries on major basin-bounding normal faults in this portion of the basin.

Seismic and outcrop evidence suggest that preexisting structures in the Precambrian basement rocks may in part have controlled the geometry of Tertiary structures in the region.

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