Miocene-Pliocene half-graben evolution, detachment faulting and late-stage core complex uplift from reflection seismic data in south-east Arizona
Reflection seismic data show that the late Cenozoic Safford Basin in the Basin and Range of south-eastern Arizona, is a 4.5-km-deep, NW-trending, SW-dipping half graben composed of middle Miocene to upper Pliocene sediments, separated by a late Miocene sequence boundary into lower and upper basin-fill sequences. Extension during lower basin-fill deposition was accommodated along an E-dipping range-bounding fault comprising a secondary breakaway zone along the north-east flank of the Pinaleño Mountains core complex. This fault was a listric detachment fault, active throughout the mid-Tertiary and late Cenozoic, or a younger fault splay that cut or merged with the detachment fault. Most extension in the basin was accommodated by slip on the range-bounding fault, although episodic movement along antithetic faults temporarily created a symmetric graben. Upper-plate movement over bends in the range-bounding fault created rollover structures in the basin fill and affected deposition within the half graben. Rapid periods of subsidence relative to sedimentation during lower basin-fill deposition created thick, laterally extensive lacustrine or alluvial plain deposits, and restricted proximal alluvian-fan deposits to the basin margins. A period of rapid extension and subsidence relative to sediment influx, or steepening of the upper segment of the range-bounding fault at the start of upper basin-fill deposition resulted in a large downwarp over a major fault bend. Sedimentation was restricted to this downwarp until filled. Episodic subsidence during upper basin-fill deposition caused widespread interbedding of lacustrine and fluvial deposits. Northeastward tilting along the south-western flank of the basin and north-eastward migration of the depocentre during later periods of upper basin-fill deposition suggest decreased extension rates relative to late-stage core complex uplift.