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The late Cenozoic extension in the Rio Grande rift of north-central New Mexico was predominantly accommodated by the north-south–trending Pajarito and Sangre de Cristo normal faults and the intervening east-northeast–striking predominantly strike-slip Embudo fault. Using this segment of the rift as our primary example, we have analyzed a series of three-dimensional nonlinear elastic-plastic finite-element models to assess the role of mechanical interactions between pairs of en echelon rift-scale listric normal faults in the evolution of intervening relay zones. The model results demonstrate that under orthogonal extension and an overall plane-strain deformation, relay zones may evolve in a three-dimensional strain field...

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