Structural analysis of the Lopez Structural Complex, a major Late Cretaceous terrane-bounding fault zone in the San Juan thrust system, reveals a sequence of events that provides insight into accretionary wedge mechanics and regional tectonics. After formation of regional ductile flattening and shear-related fabrics, the area was crosscut by brittle structures including: (1) southwest-vergent thrusts, (2) extension veins and normal faults related to northwest-southeast extension, and (3) conjugate strike-slip structures that record northwest-southeast extension and northeast-southwest shortening. Aragonite-bearing veins are associated with thrust and normal faults, but only rarely with strike-slip faults. High-pressure, low-temperature (HP-LT) minerals constrain the conditions for brittle deformation to ≥20 km and <250 °C. The presence of similar structures elsewhere indicates that the brittle structural sequence is typical of the San Juan nappes. Sustained HP-LT conditions are possible only if structures formed in an accretionary prism during active subduction, which suggests that these brittle structures record internal wedge deformation at depth and early during uplift of the San Juan nappes. The structures are consistent with orogen-normal shortening and vertical thickening followed by vertical thinning and along-strike extension. The kinematic evolution may be related initially to changes in wedge strength, followed by response to overthickening of the wedge in an unbuttressed, obliquely convergent setting. The change in vein mineralogy indicates that exhumation occurred prior to the strike-slip event. The pressure and temperature conditions and spatial and temporal extent of small faults associated with fluid flow suggest a link between these structures and the silent earthquake process.

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