Abstract

The 3D kinematic evolution of thrust systems, in which vergence changes along strike, is poorly understood. This study uses 3D seismic data from Big Piney-LaBarge field, Wyoming, to examine the geometry and kinematics of two faults at the leading edge of the Hogsback thrust sheet, the frontal thrust of the Late Cretaceous Sevier fold-thrust belt. These thrusts lie along strike of each another and share an east-vergent detachment within the Cretaceous Baxter Shale. The two thrusts verge in opposite directions: The southern thrust verges eastward forming a frontal ramp consistent with major thrusts of the Sevier belt, whereas the northern thrust verges westward to form a type 1 triangle zone with the Hogsback thrust. The thrusts have strike lengths of 5 km (3.1 mi) and 8 km (5.0 mi), respectively, and they are separated by a transfer zone of less than 0.5 km (0.3 mi) wide. Strata in the transfer zone appear to be relatively undeformed, but reflections are less coherent here, which suggests small offsets unresolved by the seismic survey. Retrodeformable cross sections and a structure contour map on the Cretaceous Mesaverde Group indicate that shortening varies along strike, with a pronounced minimum at the transfer zone and greater shortening across the northern, west-vergent thrust (610 m [2000 ft]) than across the southern, east-vergent thrust (230 m [755 ft]). Mapping of these thrusts suggests that they propagated laterally toward each other to form a type 1 antithetic fault linkage in the transfer zone. Spatial patterns expressed in seismic attributes in and near the detachment horizon, which include waveform classification and spectral decomposition, suggest that stratigraphic variations may have pinned the detachment, thus localizing the transfer zone. Thickness variations in the thrust sheet also may have influenced the thrust geometry. Our study provides an analog for analysis of similar complex contractional belts around the world.

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