Stratigraphic mapping of the Neoproterozoic glaciogenic Kingston Peak Formation (Death Valley, California) provides evidence for two temporally discrete extensional deformation episodes. These episodes are bracketed by the Sourdough Limestone and Noonday Dolomite, the facies characteristics and δ13C data (ranging between 2.15 and −2.56‰ and −1.88 and −4.86‰, respectively) of which make them equivalent to Sturtian and Varangian age cap carbonates, respectively. This constrains the two extensional episodes along the southwestern margin of Laurentia to ca. 700 Ma and ca. 600 Ma. These observations and data show that the field evidence for mid-Neoproterozoic breakup and the predictions from tectonic subsidence curves for a latest Neoproterozoic breakup are both correct. Thus, Neoproterozoic plate reconstructions must account for two discrete rift episodes separated by 100 m.y. or more. Confining rifting to within the Kingston Peak Formation thereby places the younger Proterozoic rocks of the southwestern Great Basin in the rift to drift tectonic phase.

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