Miocene basins of the Lake Mead region (southwestern United States) contain a well-exposed record of rifting and the evolving paleogeography of the eastern central Basin and Range. The middle Miocene Horse Spring Formation and red sandstone unit allow for detailed stratigraphic, chronostratigraphic, and structural analysis for better understanding the geologic history of extension in this region. We present new data from the White Basin and Lovell Wash areas (Nevada) to interpret the evolution of faulting, basin fill, and paleogeography. We conclude that tectonics strongly influenced sedimentation and hypothesize that climate may have played a secondary but important role in creating stratigraphic variations. Deposited from 14.5 to 13.86 Ma, the microbialitic Bitter Ridge Limestone Member of the Horse Spring Formation, the stratigraphically lowest unit in this study, records a widespread shallow and uniform lake which had moderate and steady sedimentation rates, both of which were controlled by a few faults. The persistent lake was broken up by fault reorganization followed by deposition of the highly variable fluvial-lacustrine facies of the Lovell Wash Member from 13.86 to 12.7 Ma. During this time, faulting shifted from the northeast-trending, oblique normal left-lateral White Basin fault to the northwest-trending, normal Muddy Peak fault and other smaller northwest-trending faults. The lower and middle portions of the red sandstone unit, 12.7–11.4 Ma, record an increase in the sedimentation rate of basin fill near the Muddy Peak fault as well as the return to widespread lacustrine conditions. Sedimentation and faulting slowed during deposition of the uppermost red sandstone unit, but some deformation occurred post–11.4 Ma. This study records basin-fill evolution including variations in depositional environments laterally and vertically, documents changes in the location and magnitude of faulting, supports earlier work that hypothesized faulting proceeded in discrete westward steps across the Lake Mead area, and helps constrain the paleogeographic and tectonic evolution of the region.
Middle Miocene faulting and basin evolution during central Basin and Range extension: A detailed record from the upper Horse Spring Formation and red sandstone unit, Lake Mead region, Nevada, USA
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Melissa A. Lamb, Thomas A. Hickson, Paul J. Umhoefer, Zachary W. Anderson, Crystal Pomerleau, Katrina Souders, Lindsey Lee, Nelia Dunbar, William McIntosh; Middle Miocene faulting and basin evolution during central Basin and Range extension: A detailed record from the upper Horse Spring Formation and red sandstone unit, Lake Mead region, Nevada, USA. Geosphere 2022; doi: https://doi.org/10.1130/GES02463.1
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