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Displacement rates on the Toroweap and Hurricane faults: implications for Quaternary downcutting in the Grand Canyon, Arizona

January 1, 2001

The Toroweap and Hurricane faults, considered to be the most active in Arizona, cross the Uinkaret volcanic field in the western Grand Canyon. These normal faults are downthrown to the west, and the Colorado River crosses these faults as it flows west in the Grand Canyon. Cosmogenic 3He (3Hec) dates on basalt flows and related landforms are used to calculate vertical displacement rates for these faults. The two faults cross unruptured alluvial fans dated as 3 ka (Toroweap) and 8 ka (Hurricane), and 10 other landforms that range in age from 30 to 400 ka are displaced. Middle and late Quaternary displacement rates of the Toroweap and Hurricane faults are 70–180 and 70–170 m/m.y., respectively. On the basis of these rates, the combined displacement of 580 m on these faults could have occurred in the past 3 to 5 m.y. All 3Hec dates are younger than existing K- Ar dates and are consistent with new 40Ar/39Ar dates and existing thermoluminescence (TL) dates on basalt flows. These different dating techniques may be combined in an analysis of displacement rates. Downcutting rates for the Colorado River in the eastern Grand Canyon (400 m/m.y.) are at least double the downcutting rates west of the faults (70–160 m/m.y.). Faulting probably increased downcutting in the eastern Grand Canyon relative to downcutting in the western Grand Canyon during the late Quaternary.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2001
Title Displacement rates on the Toroweap and Hurricane faults: implications for Quaternary downcutting in the Grand Canyon, Arizona
DOI 10.1130/0091-7613(2001)​029<1035:DROTTA>​2.0.CO;2
Authors Cassandra R. Fenton, Robert H. Webb, Philip A. Pearthree, Thure E. Cerling, Robert J. Poreda
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Geology
Series Number
Index ID 70094992
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization