Abstract

This study integrates new geologic mapping and structural analysis with previous work near Walnut Canyon and Telegraph Canyon to address the style and magnitude of shortening and the relationship between contractional structures and porphyry preservation and localization between the Ray and Resolution porphyry copper deposits. Cenozoic extensional structures were superimposed on earlier contractional structures formed during the Laramide orogeny, which dates from ~80 to 50 Ma. This superposition requires that Cenozoic normal faults be restored prior to analysis of Laramide contractional structures and their relationship to nearby porphyry copper deposits. Five distinct sets of normal faults within the study area progressively tilted the region 65° east. The amount of extension was 10.3 km or 276%. Using key constraints such as offset strata, cutoff angles between faults and various units, and Laramide fault geometries, the study area was structurally reconstructed and verified using 2-D kinematic modeling of reverse fault offset and related folding. Total shortening is 7.2 km or 98%. Laramide reverse faults are interpreted as thick-skinned basement-cored uplifts, because they restore to moderate angles, have related fault-propagation folds, and involve significant crystalline basement rock. The Telegraph Canyon reverse fault has at least 5.3 km of offset, and the Walnut Canyon reverse fault has 3.2 km. The preferred estimate of the total vertical uplift for the fault system is 5.2 km but could be several kilometers greater. The restored strike direction of these faults combined with mid-Cenozoic erosion surfaces throughout the region suggests that this fault system may be responsible for the Laramide uplift of the Tortilla Mountains and Black Hills. In addition, most major porphyry centers appear to have been intruded into the footwall of this large uplift, with local examples including Ray and Resolution, suggesting that topography generated from this uplift may have been critical to preservation of these ore systems. Though definitive crosscutting relationships do not exist in the immediate map area, geologic relationships in a broader area suggest that shortening here began after 74 Ma and, in the Ray area, had ended by ~69 Ma and that porphyry formation postdated reverse faulting by as much as 5 m.y. to as little as <1 m.y.

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