Abstract

We have determined remanent magnetization directions of the lower Miocene Peach Springs Tuff at 41 localities in western Arizona and southeastern California. An unusual northeast and shallow magnetization direction confirms the proposed geologic correlation of isolated outcrops of the tuff from the Colorado Plateau to Barstow, California, a distance of 350 km. The Peach Springs Tuff was apparently emplaced as a single cooling unit about 18 or 19 Ma and is now exposed in 4 tectonic provinces west of the Plateau, including the Transition Zone, Basin and Range, Colorado River extensional corridor, and central Mojave Desert strike-slip zone. As such, the tuff is an ideal stratigraphic and structural marker for paleomagnetic assessment of regional variations in tectonic rotations about vertical axes. From 4 sites on the stable Colorado Plateau, we have determined a reference direction of remanent magnetization (I = 36.4°, D = 33.0°, α95 = 3.4°) that we interpret as a representation of the ambient magnetic field at the time of eruption. A steeper direction of magnetization (I = 54.8°, D = 22.5°, α95 = 2.3°) was observed at Kingman where the tuff is more than 100 m thick, and similar directions were determined at 7 other thick exposures of the Peach Springs Tuff. The steeper component is presumably a later-stage magnetization acquired after prolonged cooling of the ignimbrite. When compared to the Plateau reference direction, tilt-corrected directions from 3 of 6 sites in the central Mojave strike-slip zone show localized rotations up to 13° in the vicinity of strike-slip faults. The other three sites show no significant rotations with respect to the Colorado Plateau. Both clockwise and counterclockwise rotations were measured, and no systematic regional pattern is evident. Our results do not support kinematic models which require consistent rotation of large regions to accommodate the cumulative displacement of major post-middle Miocene strike-slip faults in the central Mojave Desert. Most of our sites in the Transition Zone and Basin and Range province have had no significant rotation, although small counterclockwise rotation in the McCullough and New York Mountains may be related to sinistral shear along en echelon faults southwest of the Lake Mead shear zone. The larger rotations occur in the Colorado River extensional corridor, where 8 of 14 sites show rotations ranging from 37° clockwise to 51° counterclockwise. These rotations occur in allochthonous tilt blocks which have been transported northeastward above the Chemehuevi-Whipple Mountains detachment fault. Upper-plate blocks within 1 km of the exposed detachment unexpectedly show no significant rotation. From this relation, we infer that rotations are accommodated along numerous low-angle faults at higher structural levels above the detachment surface.

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