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Heart Mountain, Wyoming, detachment lineations: Are they in microbreccia or in volcanic tuff?

January 1, 1991

The concept of tectonic denudation followed by deposition of lower middle Eocene Wapiti Formation volcanic rocks on the exposed Heart Mountain detachment has been challenged by Hauge. His "extending allochthon" interpretation requires that the Wapiti Formation be fault emplaced and that lineations in a volcanic tuff overlying the fault north of Jim Smith Peak be fault striae in "microbreccia." Our re-examination of the field evidence in minute detail indicates that these lineations were produced by flowage of volcanic rocks on a thin layer of air-fall tuff. The following lines of evidence indicate that this tuff was deposited on the detachment surface during the brief interval that the denuded surface was exposed. (1) Field relations indicate that the Wapiti volcanic rocks are younger than the detachment, and so they could not have been fault emplaced. (2) Lineations occur only on the upper surface of Wapiti Formation tuff; none were found at the contact of the tuff with the detachment surface. (3) The reported direction of translation indicated by the lineations is not consistent. Many lineations in the tuff indicate north and northeast movement—a direction that is consistent with lineations produced by lava flowing from a known vent but inconsistent with a southeast direction of detachment movement. (4) The lineations are restricted to the northwestern part of the area covered by the Wapiti Formation, which is also consistent with their derivation as volcanic flow lineations from a known vent. If the Wapiti had been tectonically emplaced, fault striae should occur elsewhere on the detachment surface, but none have been observed. (5) The lower contact of the tuff with the detachment surface, as seen in thin sections, is irregular, suggesting that it is a depositional rather than a fault contact. (6) The contact between the tuff and overlying Wapiti, as seen in thin sections, is also irregular, as would be expected if the Wapiti volcanic breccia had been deposited on the tuff. Thin sections of the "microbreccia" suggest that it is a sedimentary rock, not a "fault rock." (7) A remnant of the tectonic carpet of all-carbonate fault breccia lying on the detachment surface, unmixed with the overlying Wapiti volcanic rock, is compatible with the depositional emplacement of the Wapiti but is not compatible with Wapiti Formation being moved many kilometers across the carpet of all-carbonate fault breccia and not removing or becoming mixed with it.

Publication Year 1991
Title Heart Mountain, Wyoming, detachment lineations: Are they in microbreccia or in volcanic tuff?
DOI 10.1130/0016-7606(1991)103<1133:HMWDLA>2.3.CO;2
Authors W. G. Pierce, W. H. Nelson, A.K. Tokarski, E. Piekarska
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Geological Society of America Bulletin
Index ID 70016421
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse