Abstract

We use continuous measurements of GPS sites from across the Rio Grande Rift, Great Plains, and Colorado Plateau to estimate present-day surface velocities and strain rates. Velocity gradients from five east-west profiles suggest an average of ∼1.2 nanostrains/yr east-west extensional strain rate across these three physiographic provinces. The extensional deformation is not concentrated in a narrow zone centered on the Rio Grande Rift but rather is distributed broadly from the western edge of the Colorado Plateau well into the western Great Plains. This unexpected pattern of broadly distributed deformation at the surface has important implications for our understanding of how low strain-rate deformation within continental interiors is accommodated.

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