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Origin of the Blytheville Arch, and long-term displacement on the New Madrid seismic zone, central United States

By
Thomas L. Pratt
Thomas L. Pratt
U.S. Geological Survey, School of Oceanography, University of Washington, Box 357940, Seattle, Washington 98195, USA
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Robert A. Williams
Robert A. Williams
U.S. Geological Survey, Box 25046, MS 966, Denver Federal Center, Denver, Colorado 80225, USA
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Jack K. Odum
Jack K. Odum
U.S. Geological Survey, Box 25046, MS 966, Denver Federal Center, Denver, Colorado 80225, USA
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William J. Stephenson
William J. Stephenson
U.S. Geological Survey, Box 25046, MS 966, Denver Federal Center, Denver, Colorado 80225, USA
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Published:
January 2013

The southern arm of the New Madrid seismic zone of the central United States coincides with the buried, ~110 km by ~20 km Blytheville Arch antiform within the Cambrian–Ordovician Reelfoot rift graben. The Blytheville Arch has been interpreted at various times as a compressive structure, an igneous intrusion, or a sediment diapir. Reprocessed industry seismic-reflection profiles presented here show a strong similarity between the Blytheville Arch and pop-up structures, or flower structures, within strike-slip fault systems. The Blytheville Arch formed in the Paleozoic, but post–Mid-Cretaceous to Quaternary strata show displacement or folding indicative of faulting. Faults within the graben structure but outside of the Blytheville Arch also appear to displace Upper Cretaceous and perhaps younger strata, indicating that past faulting was not restricted to the Blytheville Arch and New Madrid seismic zone. As much as 10–12.5 km of strike slip can be estimated from apparent shearing of the Reelfoot arm of the New Madrid seismic zone. There also appears to be ~5–5.5 km of shearing of the Reelfoot topographic scarp at the north end of the southern arm of the New Madrid seismic zone and of the southern portion of Crowley's Ridge, which is a north-trending topographic ridge just south of the seismic zone. These observations suggest that there has been substantial strike-slip displacement along the Blytheville Arch and southern arm of the New Madrid seismic zone, that strike-slip extended north and south of the modern seismic zone, and that post–Mid-Cretaceous (post-Eocene?) faulting was not restricted to the Blytheville Arch or to currently active faults within the New Madrid seismic zone.

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Contents

GSA Special Papers

Recent Advances in North American Paleoseismology and Neotectonics East of the Rockies

Edited by
Randel Tom Cox
Randel Tom Cox
Department of Earth Sciences, University of Memphis, Johnson Hall, Memphis, Tennessee 38152, USA
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Martitia P. Tuttle
Martitia P. Tuttle
M. Tuttle & Associates, 128 Tibbetts Lane, Georgetown, Maine 04548, USA
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Oliver S. Boyd
Oliver S. Boyd
U.S. Geological Survey, 3876 Central Avenue, Suite 2, Mail Stop 966, Memphis, Tennessee, 38152-3050, USA
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Jacques Locat
Jacques Locat
Département de géologie et de génie géologique, 1065 avenue de la Médecine, Québec G1V 0A6, Canada
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Geological Society of America
Volume
493
ISBN print:
9780813724935
Publication date:
2013

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