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We describe the structure of the eastern Española Basin and use stratigraphic and stratal attitude data to interpret its tectonic development. This area consists of a west-dipping half graben in the northern Rio Grande rift that includes several intrabasinal grabens, faults, and folds. The Embudo–Santa Clara–Pajarito fault system, a collection of northeast- and north-striking faults in the center of the Española Basin, defines the western boundary of the half graben and was active throughout rifting. Throw rates near the middle of the fault system (i.e., the Santa Clara and north Pajarito faults) and associated hanging-wall tilt rates progressively increased during the middle Miocene. East of Española, hanging-wall tilt rates decreased after 10–12 Ma, coinciding with increased throw rates on the Cañada del Almagre fault. This fault may have temporarily shunted slip from the north Pajarito fault during ca. 8–11 Ma, resulting in lower strain rates on the Santa Clara fault. East of the Embudo–Santa Clara–Pajarito fault system, deformation of the southern Barrancos monocline and the Cañada Ancha graben peaked during the early–middle Miocene and effectively ceased by the late Pliocene. The north-striking Gabeldon faulted monocline lies at the base of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, where stratal dip relations indicate late Oligocene and Miocene tilting. Shifting of strain toward the Embudo–Santa Clara–Pajarito fault system culminated during the late Pliocene–Quaternary. Collectively, our data suggest that extensional tectonism in the eastern Española Basin increased in the early Miocene and probably peaked between 14–15 Ma and 9–10 Ma, preceding and partly accompanying major volcanism, and decreased in the Plio-Pleistocene.

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