Abstract

Outcrops, shallow well control, and coincident geophysical surveys are used to interpret a seismic reflection profile in the Amargosa Desert, within the Basin and Range province, of southern Nevada. The east-west-trending, 27-km-long seismic line crosses all or parts of three Tertiary subbasins, revealing that basin growth occurred by progressive shifts of basin-bounding faults. The reflection line images Tertiary strata that is rotated by steeply dipping listric faults and that noses into normal faults. A shallow (less than 100 to 200 m deep), laterally continuous, flat-lying, low-frequency reflector, interpreted as a Tertiary basalt flow, suggests that little vertical deformation has occurred within the easternmost of the small Tertiary basins since the eruption of the flow about 10 million years ago. Moderately dipping reflections within the pre-Tertiary bedrock may image Mesozoic thrust faults. The reflection data indicate that, whereas the top of the reflective lower crust shallows to the west, possibly in the direction of increasing crustal extension, the Moho is relatively flat between 30 and 33 km deep. Apparent bright-spot reflections from the lower crust are interpreted as evidence for ductile shearing of the lower crust, not for active magma chambers. Doming of the lower crust resembles that observed elsewhere in the Basin and Range province and is consistent with ductile flow in the lower crust.

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