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Climatic and tectonic controls on Jurassic intra-arc basins related to northward drift of North America

By
Cathy J. Busby
Cathy J. Busby
Department of Geological Sciences, University of California, Santa Barbara, California 93106, USAbusby@geol.ucsb.edu; kari.bassett@canterbury.ac.nz; Steiner—magnetic@uwyo.edu; nancy.riggs@nau.edu
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Kari N. Bassett
Kari N. Bassett
Department of Geological Sciences, University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealandbusby@geol.ucsb.edu; kari.bassett@canterbury.ac.nz; Steiner—magnetic@uwyo.edu; nancy.riggs@nau.edu
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Maureen B. Steiner
Maureen B. Steiner
Department of Geology and Geophysics, University of Wyoming, Laramie, Wyoming 82071, USAbusby@geol.ucsb.edu; kari.bassett@canterbury.ac.nz; Steiner—magnetic@uwyo.edu; nancy.riggs@nau.edu
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Nancy R. Riggs
Nancy R. Riggs
Department of Geology, Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, Arizona 86011, USAbusby@geol.ucsb.edu; kari.bassett@canterbury.ac.nz; Steiner—magnetic@uwyo.edu; nancy.riggs@nau.edu
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Published:
January 01, 2005

Upper Jurassic strike-slip intra-arc basins formed along the axis of earlier Lower to Middle Jurassic extensional intra-arc basins in Arizona. These strike-slip basins developed along the Sawmill Canyon fault zone, which may represent an inboard strand of the Mojave-Sonora megashear system that did not necessarily produce large-scale translations. Subsidence in the Lower to Middle Jurassic extensional arc was uniformly fast and continuous, whereas at least parts of the Upper Jurassic arc experienced rapidly alternating uplift and subsidence, producing numerous large-scale intrabasinal unconformities. Volcanism occurred only at releasing bends or stepovers in the Upper Jurassic arc, producing more episodic and localized eruptions than in the earlier extensional arc. Sediment sources in the Upper Jurassic strike-slip arc were also more localized, with restraining bends shedding sediment into nearby releasing bends. Normal fault scarps were rapidly buried by voluminous pyroclastic debris in the Lower to Middle Jurassic extensional arc, so epiclastic sedimentary deposits are rare, whereas pop-up structures in the Upper Jurassic strike-slip arc shed abundant epiclastic sediment into the basins. Three Upper Jurassic calderas formed along the Sawmill Canyon fault zone where strands of the fault progressively stepped westward in a releasing geometry relative to paleo-Pacific–North America plate motion.

We hypothesize that strike-slip basins in the Upper Jurassic arc formed in response to changing plate motions that induced northward drift of North America, causing sinistral deformation of the paleo-Pacific margin. Drift out of the northern horse latitudes into northern temperate latitudes brought about wetter climatic conditions, with eolianites replaced by fluvial, debris-flow, and lacustrine sediments. “Dry” eruptions of welded ignimbrite were replaced by “wet” eruptions of nonwelded, easily reworked ignimbrite and phreatoplinian fall. This Late Jurassic transition from hyperarid to more temperate climatic conditions may thus form a superregional “time line” that ties the Cordilleran plate margin to events in the interior of the continent.

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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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