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Implications of geophysical analysis on basin geometry and fault offsets in the northern Colorado River extensional corridor and adjoining Lake Mead region, Nevada and Arizona

June 1, 2010

The northern Colorado River extensional corridor and Lake Mead region are characterized by prominent gravity and magnetic anomalies that provide insight into the geometry of extensional basins, amount of vertical and strike-slip offset on faults that bound these basins, and composition of major basement blocks. Although large-magnitude extension throughout the extensional corridor and major strike-slip faulting north of Lake Mead have highly disrupted many basins, most of the older basins (middle to late Miocene) are not associated with prominent geophysical anomalies. Instead, the most conspicuous anomalies (e.g., gravity lows) generally correspond to the younger (late Miocene to recent), structurally more coherent basins. Most of the geophysically expressed basins lie north of Lake Mead and are bounded by Quaternary normal and/or strike-slip fault zones. Both Quaternary faults and geophysically conspicuous basins are largely absent south of Lake Mead, where the only prominent gravity low corresponds to a structurally intact basin filled primarily with halite along the less extended, eastern margin of the corridor. Relatively continuous northeast-trending magnetic anomalies south of Lake Mead, presumably caused by Proterozoic basement rocks, suggest that strike-slip displacement is negligible on many of the major normal faults. In contrast, magnetic anomalies are smeared along the Lake Mead fault system and Las Vegas Valley shear zone. Offset anomalies suggest left-lateral displacement of 12–20 km for the Hamblin Bay fault zone, 12–15 km for the Lime Ridge fault, and 12 km on the Gold Butte fault. These values are compatible with or lower than published estimates based on geologic mapping.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2010
Title Implications of geophysical analysis on basin geometry and fault offsets in the northern Colorado River extensional corridor and adjoining Lake Mead region, Nevada and Arizona
DOI 10.1130/2010.2463(03)
Authors Victoria Langenheim, L. Sue Beard, James E. Faulds
Publication Type Book Chapter
Publication Subtype Book Chapter
Series Title Special Papers of the Geological Society of America
Index ID 70236426
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse