The geometry and kinematics of the latest paleozoic Allatoona Fault, one of the youngest thrusts in the southernmost Appalachian Hinterland, Alabama and Georgia, U.S.A.
The Allatoona thrust fault in the southernmost hinterland of the Appalachian Blue Ridge-Piedmont megathrust sheet is among the latest structures in the kinematic sequence of events along the west flank of the orogen. It is an out-of-sequence, craton-directed thrust fault that cuts metamorphic isograds and earlier thrusts, and it has a nearly linear trace of ≥280 km, making it one of the major thrust faults in the orogen. On the northwest, the fault cuts Pennsylvanian or younger(?) regional cross antiforms that cause significant orogenic curvature of older underlying thrust sheets and is likely Permian in age. To the southeast, however, units within the fault hanging wall maintain a nearly constant width resulting in a significant change in the regional structural architecture of the orogen. In the central segment of the fault, where it marks the western/eastern Blue Ridge domain boundary, a ~20 km-long eyelid window (Mulberry Rock window) framed by three amphibolite facies thrust sheets overlying the greenschist facies Talladega belt allochthon, allows a 3-D view into the structural architecture, kinematics, and trajectories of the regional thrusts. Two earlier thrusts within the window (Mulberry Rock and Burnt Hickory Ridge thrusts, with a combined minimum horizontal net slip component of 27 km) are cut by the Allatoona fault, which is a ~15 m-wide high strain zone with top-to-the-northwest displacement, and a >17.2 km horizontal net slip vector. Structural branch points between the Allatoona and Mulberry Rock thrusts indicate that the Mulberry Rock allochthon is a large north-trending horse beneath the Allatoona fault, centered on the Mulberry Rock window, which is likely the result of oblique ramp thrusting over the massive Mulberry Rock Gneiss. The Allatoona fault cuts down obliquely into the tectonostratigraphy progressively deeper both to the northeast and northwest, locally approaching underlying foreland thrust sheets, and cutting older regional structures. To the northeast, the Allatoona fault lies at the base of the Dahlonega gold belt, becoming an internal eastern Blue Ridge thrust at Dawsonville, Georgia. Although that sequence extends another 120 km into North Carolina, continuation of the Allatoona fault that additional distance is in debate. Regardless, the Allatoona is one of the kinematically latest and longest faults in the southern Appalachian orogen.
|The geometry and kinematics of the latest paleozoic Allatoona Fault, one of the youngest thrusts in the southernmost Appalachian Hinterland, Alabama and Georgia, U.S.A.
|James F. Tull, Christopher Holm-Denoma, Nawwaf A. Almuntshry, Ericka L. McMahan
|American Journal of Science
|USGS Publications Warehouse
|Geology, Geophysics, and Geochemistry Science Center