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The paleogeographic evolution of the western U.S. Great Basin from the Late Cretaceous to the Cenozoic is critical to understanding how the North American Cordillera at this latitude transitioned from Mesozoic shortening to Cenozoic extension. According to a widely applied model, Cenozoic extension was driven by collapse of elevated crust supported by crustal thicknesses that were potentially double the present ~30–35 km. This model is difficult to reconcile with more recent estimates of moderate regional extension (≤50%) and the discovery that most high-angle, Basin and Range faults slipped rapidly ca. 17 Ma, tens of millions of years after crustal...

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