Abstract

An analysis of the Miocene Horse Camp basin in the central Basin and Range province demonstrates that individual components of an extensional basin system may undergo initial subsidence and subsequent uplift and exhumation during extension. The Horse Camp basin developed during Miocene time above a west-dipping detachment fault and between two east-striking accommodation faults. Growth strata indicate that the west-dipping detachment was active throughout basin filling. Lateral facies variations in alluvial-fan, fan-delta, and lacustrine deposits indicate that the east-striking accommodation faults along the northern and southern basin margins bounded primary sediment source areas. During late Miocene time, the hanging-wall block of the detachment system was broken by the west-dipping Railroad Valley normal fault, thereby inducing development of an extensional basin, Railroad Valley, in the newly formed hanging wall and uplift and exhumation of the older Horse Camp basin in the footwall.

The total amount of exhumation during Neogene extension is calculated for a single range block, the northern Grant Range. Early exhumation is recorded by the detrital compositions of middle-late Miocene strata in the southern part of the Horse Camp basin. Provenance modeling indicates that approximately 1600 m of Mississippian to Silurian section was exhumed in the range during middle-late Miocene Horse Camp deposition. From late Miocene to Holocene time, both the northern Grant Range and Horse Camp basin were exhumed in the footwall of the Railroad Valley fault. A comparison between the currently exposed bedrock geology and calculated late Miocene exposure levels from the provenance model indicates that 1000–2000 m of Cambrian–Ordovician section must have been exposed in the range after late Miocene deposition in the Horse Camp basin.

Modern alluvial fans in eastern Railroad Valley have drainage networks that contain exposures of the fill of the Horse Camp basin, indicating that older basin fill is being recycled into the modern extensional basin. Extensional basin systems having similar basinward shifts of the major fault system are particularly susceptible to uplift, exhumation, and erosional recycling, not unlike the structurally dismembered margins of foreland basin systems.

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