Title

Three-dimensionalstrain produced by >50 m.y. of episodic extension

Document Type

Article

Journal/Book Title/Conference

Journal of Structural Geology

Volume

20

Publisher

Elsevier

Publication Date

1998

First Page

1747

Last Page

1767

Abstract

The Horse Prairie basin of southwestern Montana is a complex, east-dipping half-graben that contains three angular unconformity-bounded sequences of Tertiary sedimentary rocks overlying middle Eocene volcanic rocks. New mapping of the basin and its hanging wall indicate that five temporally and geometrically distinct phases of normal faulting and at least three generations of fault-related extensional folding affected the area during the late Mesozoic (?) to Cenozoic. All of these phases of extension are evident over regional or cordilleran-scale domains. The extension direction has rotated ∼90° four times in the Horse Prairie area resulting in a complex three-dimensional strain field with ≫60% east–west and >25% north–south bulk extension. Extensional folds with axes at high angles to the associated normal fault record most of the three-dimensional strain during individual phases of extension (phases 3a, 3b, and 4). Cross-cutting relationships between normal faults and Tertiary volcanic and sedimentary rocks constrain the ages of each distinct phase of deformation and show that extension continued episodically for more than 50 My. Gravitational collapse of the Sevier fold and thrust belt was the ultimate cause of most of the extension.

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