Marshall, S.T., Kattenhorn, S.A., Cooke, M.L. (2010)

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Secondary normal faulting in the Lake Mead fault system and implications for regional fault mechanics.


In: Miocene Tectonics of the Lake Mead Region, Central Basin and Range, Umhoefer, P.J., Beard, L.S., Lamb, M.A., eds, Geological Society of America Special Paper, 463, 289-310.

The hypothesized presence of a detachment underlying the Lake Mead region has created a dichotomy in the interpretations of the roles of strike-slip faults of the Lake Mead fault system in accommodating regional deformation. Our detailed field mapping reveals a previously unnamed left-lateral strike-slip segment of the Lake Mead fault system and a dense cluster of dominantly west-dipping and related normal faults located near Pinto Ridge. We suggest that the strike-slip fault that we refer to as the Pinto Ridge fault: (1) was kinematically related to the Bitter Spring Valley fault; (2) was responsible for the creation of the normal fault cluster at Pinto Ridge; and (3) utilized these normal faults as linking structures between separate strike-slip fault segments to create a longer, through-going fault. Results from numerical models demonstrate that the observed location and curving strike patterns of the normal fault cluster are consistent with the faults having formed as secondary structures as the result of the perturbed stress field around the slipping Pinto Ridge fault, regardless of whether or not the Pinto Ridge fault merges into a regional detachment at depth. Calculations of mechanical efficiency of various normal fault geometries within extending terranes suggest that a preferred west dip of normal faults likely reflects a west-dipping anisotropy at depth, such as a detachment. The apparent terminations of numerous strike-slip faults of the Lake Mead fault system into west-dipping normal faults suggest that a west-dipping detachment may be regionally coherent.

Article available for educational and research use in PDF format upon request (simkat@uidaho.edu).

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