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Digital outcrop model of stratigraphy and breccias of the southern Franklin Mountains, El Paso, Texas

January 1, 2012

This chapter reviews and synthesizes the lithostratigraphy, biostratigraphy, chronostratigraphy, and breccia types of the southwestern part of the great American carbonate bank in the southern Franklin Mountains (SFM), El Paso, Texas. Primary stratigraphic units of focus are the Lower Ordovician El Paso and Upper Ordovician Montoya Groups. These groups preserve breccias formed by collapse of a paleocave system. Precambrian and Silurian units are discussed in the context of breccia clast composition and relative timing of breccia emplacement. Specific attention is paid to the juxtaposition of the top-Sauk second-order supersequence unconformity between the El Paso and Montoya Groups and its relationship to breccias above and below it. The unconformity represents a 10-m.y. exposure event that separates Upper and Lower Ordovician carbonates. The top-Sauk exposure has been previously documented as a significant karst horizon across much of North America.

The breccias of the SFM were previously described as the result of collapsed paleocaves that formed during subaerial exposure related to the Sauk-Tippecanoe unconformity. A new approach in this work uses traditional field mapping combined with high-resolution (1-m [3.3-ft] point spacing) airborne light detection and ranging (LIDAR) data over 24 km2 (9 mi2) to map breccia and relevant stratal surfaces. Airborne LIDAR data were used to create a digital outcrop model of the SFM from which a detailed (1:2000 scale) geologic map was created. The geologic map includes formation, fault, and breccia contacts. The digital outcrop model was used to interpret three-dimensional spatial relationships of breccia bodies with respect to the current understanding of the tectonic and stratigraphic evolution of the SFM. The data presented here are used to discuss potential stratigraphic, temporal, and tectonic controls on the formation of caves within the study area that eventually collapsed to form the breccias currently exposed in outcrop.

Publication Year 2012
Title Digital outcrop model of stratigraphy and breccias of the southern Franklin Mountains, El Paso, Texas
DOI 10.1306/13331521M983516
Authors Jerome A. Bellian, Charles Kerans, John E. Repetski
Publication Type Book Chapter
Publication Subtype Book Chapter
Series Title AAPG Memoir
Index ID 70044132
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Eastern Geology and Paleoclimate Science Center