Abstract

The Midcontinent Rift System forms one of the most prominent gravity features in North America. The recognized geophysical anomaly extends in an arc from southern Oklahoma to Lake Superior and then into southern Michigan. The Midcontinent Rift System was active between 1185–1010 Ma, as indicated in the Lake Superior region by age determinations on intrusive igneous rocks. We suggest that the period of formation of the Midcontinent Rift was also a time of extensive igneous activity in Texas and New Mexico. This activity is represented by intrusions beneath the Central basin platform (Texas and New Mexico), intrusions which crop out at the Pajarito Mountain in the Sacramento Mountains (New Mexico), a basaltic debris flow in the Franklin Mountains (Texas), basalt flows at Van Horn (Texas), and the Crosbyton geophysical anomaly (east of Lubbock, Texas). These bodies and other bodies located by geophysical anomalies and wells drilled into mafic Precambrian rocks may be related to the Midcontinent Rift System. Alternatively this magmatism could be related to Grenville age tectonics in Texas. The mafic igneous rocks in this area form a 530 km diameter Middle Proterozoic igneous province, which formed between 1070 and 1220 Ma. Comparison of the Midcontinent Rift System and its extensions proposed here with the Mesozoic and Cenozoic African rift systems indicates that these features are of comparable scale and complexity.

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