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Data for a Comprehensive Survey of Fault Zones, Breccias, and Fractures in and Flanking the Eastern Espanola Basin, Rio Grande Rift, New Mexico

December 30, 2016

This release provides the data for a comprehensive survey of geologic structures in the eastern Espaola Basin of the Rio Grande rift, New Mexico. The release includes data and analyses from 53 individual fault zones and 22 other brittle structures, such as breccia zones, joints, and veins, investigated at a total of just over 100 sites. Structures were examined and compared from poorly lithified Tertiary sediments, as well as Paleozoic sedimentary and Proterozoic crystalline rocks. Data and analyses, include geologic maps; field observations and measurements; orientation, kinematic paleostress analyses and modeling; statistical examination of 575 fault trace lengths derived from aeromagnetic data in the Espaola and adjacent basins; mineralogy and chemistry of host and fault rocks; and investigation of fault versus bolide impact hypotheses for the origin of enigmatic breccias found in the Proterozoic basement rocks. Kinematic and paleostress analyses suggest a record of transitional, and perhaps partitioned, strains from the Laramide orogeny through Rio Grande rifting. Normal faults within Tertiary basin fill sediments are consistent with more typical WNW-ESE Rio Grande extension, perhaps decoupled from bedrock structures due to strength contrasts favoring the formation of new faults in the relatively weak sediments. Analyses of the fault length data indicate power law length distributions similar to those reported from many geologic settings globally. Mineralogy and chemistry in Proterozoic fault-related rocks reveal geochemical changes tied to hydrothermal alteration and nearly isochemical transformation of feldspars to clay minerals. In sediments, fault rocks are characterized by mechanical entrainment with minor secondary chemical changes. Enigmatic breccias are autoclastic, isochemical with respect to their protoliths, and occur near shatter cones believed to be related to a pre-Pennsylvanian impact event. A weak iridium anomaly is associated with the breccias as well as adjacent protoliths, thus an impact shock wave cannot be ruled out for their origin. The types of faults, associated brittle structures, and geochemical attributes provided here can aid in development of conceptual models and approaches useful in identifying testable hypotheses grounded in geological data when assessing ground- and surface-water resources.

Publication Year 2016
Title Data for a Comprehensive Survey of Fault Zones, Breccias, and Fractures in and Flanking the Eastern Espanola Basin, Rio Grande Rift, New Mexico
DOI 10.5066/F7222RXW
Authors Jonathan S Caine, Scott A Minor, V. J. S Grauch, James R Budahn, Tucker T. Keren, Michaela R Johnson
Product Type Data Release
Record Source USGS Digital Object Identifier Catalog
USGS Organization Geology, Geophysics, and Geochemistry Science Center