Example of a supradetachment basin within a pullapart tectonic setting: Mormon Point, Death Valley, California
B.C. Burchfiel, P. Molnar, P. Zhang, Q. Deng, W. Zhang and Y. Wang
Journal name: Basin Research
Issue: Vol 7, No 2, June 1995 pp. 199 - 214
Info: Article, PDF ( 3.5Mb )
The geological features now exposed at Mormon Point, Death Valley, reveal processes of extension that continue to be active, but are concealed beneath the east side of Death Valley. Late Cenozoic sedimentary rocks at Mormon Point crop out in the hangingwall of the Mormon Point low-angle normal fault zone, a fault zone that formed within a releasing bend of the oblique-slip (right-normal slip) fault zone along the east side of Death Valley. The late Cenozoic sedimentary rocks were part of the valley when the low-angle fault zone was active, but during late Quaternary time they became part of the Black Mountains block and were uplifted. Rocks and structures exposed at Mormon Point are an example of the types of features developed in a releasing bend along the margins of a major pull-apart structure, and in this example they are very similar to features associated with regional detachment faults. The oldest sedimentary rocks in the hangingwall of the Mormon Point low-angle fault zone dip steeply to moderately east or north-east and were faulted and rotated in an extensional kinematic environment different from that recorded by rocks and structures associated with younger rocks in the hangingwall. Some of the younger parts of the late Cenozoic sedimentary rocks were deposited, faulted and rotated during movement on the Mormon Point low-angle normal fault. Progressively, strata are less faulted and less rotated. The Mormon Point low-angle normal fault has an irregular fault surface whose segments define intersections that plunge 18\\\"-30\\\", N10\\\"-40\\\"W, with a maximum of 22\\\", N22\\\"W that we interpret to be the general direction of slip. Thus, even though Death Valley trends north, movement on the faults responsible for its formation was at least locally north-northwest. Gouge and disrupted conglomerates along the faults are interpreted to have formed either as adjustments to accommodate space problems at the corners of blocks or along faults that bounded blocks during their displacement and rotation. The younger units of the late Cenozoic sedimentary rock sequence and the geomorphic surfaces developed on them are rarely faulted, not rotated, and overlap the Mormon Point low-angle faults. Active faults cut Holocene alluvium north of the late Cenozoic rocks and form the present boundary between Mormon Point and the Black Mountains. The distribution of active faults defines a releasing bend that mimics the older releasing bend formed by the Mormon Point low-angle fault zone. Rocks and structures similar to those exposed above the Mormon Point low-angle fault zone are probably forming today beneath the east side of Death Valley north-west of Mormon Point.