Dynamic topography refers to the vertical deflection (i.e., uplift and subsidence) of the Earth’s surface generated in response to mantle flow. Although dynamic subsidence has been increasingly invoked to explain the subsidence and migration of depocenters in the Late Cretaceous North American Cordilleran foreland basin (CFB), it remains a challenging task to discriminate the effects of dynamic mantle processes from other subsidence mechanisms, and the spatial and temporal scales of dynamic topography is not well known. To unravel the relationship between sedimentary systems, accommodation, and subsidence mechanisms of the CFB through time and space, a high-resolution chronostratigraphic framework was developed for the Upper Cretaceous strata based on a dense data set integrating >600 well logs from multiple basins/regions in Wyoming, Utah, Colorado, and New Mexico, USA. The newly developed stratigraphic framework divides the Upper Cretaceous strata into four chronostratigraphic packages separated by chronostratigraphic surfaces that can be correlated regionally and constrained by ammonite biozones. Regional isopach patterns and shoreline trends constructed for successive time intervals suggest that dynamic subsidence influenced accommodation creation in the CFB starting from ca. 85 Ma, and this wave of subsidence increasingly affected the CFB by ca. 80 Ma as subsidence migrated from the southwest to northeast. During 100−75 Ma, the depocenter migrated from central Utah (dominantly flexural subsidence) to north-central Colorado (dominantly dynamic subsidence). Subsidence within the CFB during 75−66 Ma was controlled by the combined effects of flexural subsidence induced by local Laramide uplifts and dynamic subsidence. Results from this study provide new constraints on the spatio-temporal footprint and migration of large-scale (>400 km × 400 km) dynamic topography at an average rate ranging from ∼120 to 60 km/m.y. in the CFB through the Late Cretaceous. The wavelength and location of dynamic topography (subsidence and uplift) generated in response to the subduction of the conjugate Shatsky Rise highly varied through both space and time, probably depending on the evolution of the oceanic plateau (e.g., changes in its location, subduction angle and depth, and buoyancy). Careful, high-resolution reconstruction of regional stratigraphic frameworks using three-dimensional data sets is critical to constrain the influence of dynamic topography. The highly transitory effects of dynamic topography need to be incorporated into future foreland basin models to better reconstruct and predict the formation of foreland basins that may have formed under the combined influence of upper crustal flexural loading and dynamic subcrustal loading associated with large-scale mantle flows.
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Research Article| May 11, 2021
Constraining the effects of dynamic topography on the development of Late Cretaceous Cordilleran foreland basin, western United States
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Zhiyang Li, Jennifer Aschoff; Constraining the effects of dynamic topography on the development of Late Cretaceous Cordilleran foreland basin, western United States. GSA Bulletin 2021; doi: https://doi.org/10.1130/B35838.1
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