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Evidence for Mojave-Sonora megashear—Systematic left-lateral offset of Neoproterozoic to Lower Jurassic strata and facies, western United States and northwestern Mexico

By
John H. Stewart
John H. Stewart
U.S. Geological Survey, 345 Middlefield Road, Menlo Park, California 94025, USAstewart@usgs.gov
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Published:
January 01, 2005

Major successions as well as individual units of Neoproterozoic to Lower Jurassic strata and facies appear to be systematically offset left laterally from eastern California and western Nevada in the western United States to Sonora, Mexico. This pattern is most evident in units such as the “Johnnie oolite,” a 1- to 2-m-thick oolite of the Neoproterozoic Rainstorm Member of the Johnnie Formation in the western United States and of the Clemente Formation in Sonora. The pattern is also evident in the Lower Cambrian Zabriskie Quartzite of the western United States and the correlative Proveedora Quartzite in Sonora. Matching of isopach lines of the Zabriskie Quartzite and Proveedora Quartzite suggests ∼700–800 km of left-lateral offset. The offset pattern is also apparent in the distribution of distinctive lithologic types, unconformities, and fossil assemblages in other rocks ranging in age from Neoproterozoic to Early Jurassic. In the western United States, the distribution of facies in Neoproterozoic and Paleozoic strata indicates that the Cordilleran miogeocline trends north-south. A north-south trend is also suggested in Sonora, and if so is compatible with offset of the miogeocline but not with the ideas that the miogeocline wrapped around the continental margin and trends east-west in Sonora. An imperfect stratigraphic match of supposed offset segments along the megashear is apparent. Some units, such as the “Johnnie oolite” and Zabriskie-Proveedora, show almost perfect correspondence, but other units are significantly different. The differences seem to indicate that the indigenous succession of the western United States and offset segments in Mexico were not precisely side by side before offset but were separated by an area—now buried, eroded, or destroyed—that contained strata of intermediate facies.

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GSA Special Papers

The Mojave-Sonora Megashear Hypothesis: Development, Assessment, and Alternatives

Thomas H. Anderson
Thomas H. Anderson
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Jonathan A. Nourse
Jonathan A. Nourse
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James W. McKee
James W. McKee
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Maureen B. Steiner
Maureen B. Steiner
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Geological Society of America
Volume
393
ISBN print:
9780813723938
Publication date:
January 01, 2005

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