Matching Items (6)

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Dating and Characterizing the Piedmont Fault in the North Virgin Mountains of Arizona

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Faults found in the arid to semi-arid Basin and Range Physiographic province of the southwestern US are given broad age definitions in terms of which features appear to be the

Faults found in the arid to semi-arid Basin and Range Physiographic province of the southwestern US are given broad age definitions in terms of which features appear to be the oldest. Particularly in the northwestern corner of Arizona, detailed geomorphic studies on the tectonic history and timing of faulting are not widespread. At the base of the Virgin Mountains in northwestern Arizona is a fault scarp along the Piedmont Fault line. This normal fault crosses a series of alluvial fans that are filled with sediments of ambiguous ages. Previous studies that were done in this region find a broad, Miocene age for the exhumation and uplift of these surfaces, with some indications of Laramide faulting history. However, specific fault characteristics and a time constraint of the tectonic history of the Piedmont Fault scarp has yet to be established. Here, we aim to determine the age, fault-slip rate, seismic history, and potential hazard of the fault scarp near Scenic and Littlefield, Arizona through structure from motion (SfM) modeling, which is a form of photogrammetry using a drone. In addition, we distinguish the climatic and tectonic influences on the geomorphology observed along the scarp through analysis along the fault line. With data collected from a ~500 m section of the fault, we present results from a digital elevation model (DEM) and orthophotos derived through the SfM modelling. Based on field observations and morphologic dating, we determine that the Piedmont Fault experiences an approximately continuous fault-slip and an earthquake recurrence interval in the range of 7,000 years. The approximate age of the scarp is 16.0 ka ± 5 kyr. Therefore, we conclude that the earthquake hazard posed to nearby cities is minimal but not nonexistent. Future work includes further analysis of fault profiles due to uncertainty in the present one and Terrestrial Cosmogenic Nuclide (TCN) dating of samples taken from the tops of boulders in a residual debris flow sitting on faulted and unfaulted alluvia. Determining the ages for these boulder surfaces can hopefully further inform our knowledge of the tectonic activity present in the North Virgin Mountains.

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Date Created
  • 2020-12

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Quantifying the temporal and spatial response of channel steepness to changes in rift basin architecture

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Quantifying the temporal and spatial evolution of active continental rifts contributes to our understanding of fault system evolution and seismic hazards. Rift systems also preserve robust paleoenvironmental records and are

Quantifying the temporal and spatial evolution of active continental rifts contributes to our understanding of fault system evolution and seismic hazards. Rift systems also preserve robust paleoenvironmental records and are often characterized by strong climatic gradients that can be used to examine feedbacks between climate and tectonics. In this thesis, I quantify the spatial and temporal history of rift flank uplift by analyzing bedrock river channel profiles along footwall escarpments in the Malawi segment of the East Africa Rift. This work addresses questions that are widely applicable to continental rift settings: (1) Is rift-flank uplift sufficiently described by theoretical elliptical along-fault displacement patterns? (2) Do orographic climate patterns induced by rift topography affect rift-flank uplift or morphology? (3) How do uplift patterns along rift flanks vary over geologic timescales? In Malawi, 100-km-long border faults of alternating polarity bound half-graben sedimentary basins containing up to 4km of basin fill and water depths up to 700m. Orographically driven precipitation produces climatic gradients along footwall escarpments resulting in mean annual rainfall that varies spatially from 800 to 2500 mm. Temporal oscillations in climate have also resulted in lake lowstands 500 m below the modern shoreline. I examine bedrock river profiles crossing the Livingstone and Usisya Border Faults in northern Malawi using the channel steepness index (Ksn) to assess importance of these conditions on rift flank evolution. River profiles reveal a consistent transient pattern that likely preserves a temporal record of slip and erosion along the entire border fault system. These profiles and other topographic observations, along with known modern and paleoenvironmental conditions, can be used to interpret a complete history of rift flank development from the onset of rifting to present. I interpret the morphology of the upland landscape to preserve the onset of extensional faulting across a relict erosion surface. The linkages of individual faults and acceleration of slip during the development of a continuous border fault is suggested by an analysis of knickpoint elevations and Ksn. Finally, these results suggest that the modern observed climate gradient only began to significantly affect denudation patterns once a high relief rift flank was established.

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Date Created
  • 2014

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Tectonic and climatic influence on the evolution of the Bhutan Himalaya

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The Himalaya are the archetypal example of a continental collision belt, formed by the ongoing convergence between India and Eurasia. Boasting some of the highest and most rugged topography on

The Himalaya are the archetypal example of a continental collision belt, formed by the ongoing convergence between India and Eurasia. Boasting some of the highest and most rugged topography on Earth, there is currently no consensus on how climatic and tectonic processes have combined to shape its topographic evolution. The Kingdom of Bhutan in the eastern Himalaya provides a unique opportunity to study the interconnections among Himalayan climate, topography, erosion, and tectonics. The eastern Himalaya are remarkably different from the rest of the orogen, most strikingly due to the presence of the Shillong Plateau to the south of the Himalayan rangefront. The tectonic structures associated with the Shillong Plateau have accommodated convergence between India and Eurasia and created a natural experiment to test the possible response of the Himalaya to a reduction in local shortening. In addition, the position and orientation of the plateau topography has intercepted moisture once bound for the Himalaya and created a natural experiment to test the possible response of the range to a reduction in rainfall. I focused this study around the gently rolling landscapes found in the middle of the otherwise extremely rugged Bhutan Himalaya, with the understanding that these landscapes likely record a recent change in the evolution of the range. I have used geochronometric, thermochronometric, and cosmogenic nuclide techniques, combined with thermal-kinematic and landscape evolution models to draw three primary conclusions. 1) The cooling histories of bedrock samples from the hinterland of the Bhutan Himalaya show a protracted decrease in erosion rate from the Middle Miocene toward the Pliocene. I have attributed this change to a reduction in shortening rates across the Himalayan mountain belt, due to increased accommodation of shortening across the Shillong Plateau. 2) The low-relief landscapes of Bhutan were likely created by backtilting and surface uplift produced by an active, blind, hinterland duplex. These landscapes were formed during surface uplift, which initiated ca. 1.5 Ma and has totaled 800 m. 3) Millennial-scale erosion rates are coupled with modern rainfall rates. Non-linear relationships between topographic metrics and erosion rates, suggest a fundamental difference in the mode of river incision within the drier interior of Bhutan and the wetter foothills.

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Date Created
  • 2014

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Breaking ground on the Moon and Mars: reconstructing lunar tectonic evolution and Martian central pit crater formation

Description

Understanding the structural evolution of planetary surfaces provides key insights to their physical properties and processes. On the Moon, large-scale tectonism was thought to have ended over a billion years

Understanding the structural evolution of planetary surfaces provides key insights to their physical properties and processes. On the Moon, large-scale tectonism was thought to have ended over a billion years ago. However, new Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera (LROC) Narrow Angle Camera (NAC) high resolution images show the Moon’s surface in unprecedented detail and show many previously unidentified tectonic landforms, forcing a re-assessment of our views of lunar tectonism. I mapped lobate scarps, wrinkle ridges, and graben across Mare Frigoris – selected as a type area due to its excellent imaging conditions, abundance of tectonic landforms, and range of inferred structural controls. The distribution, morphology, and crosscutting relationships of these newly identified populations of tectonic landforms imply a more complex and longer-lasting history of deformation that continues to today. I also performed additional numerical modeling of lobate scarp structures that indicates the upper kilometer of the lunar surface has experienced 3.5-18.6 MPa of differential stress in the recent past, likely due to global compression from radial thermal contraction.

Central pit craters on Mars are another instance of intriguing structures that probe subsurface physical properties. These kilometer-scale pits are nested in the centers of many impact craters on Mars as well as on icy satellites. They are inferred to form in the presence of a water-ice rich substrate; however, the process(es) responsible for their formation is still debated. Previous models invoke origins by either explosive excavation of potentially water-bearing crustal material, or by subsurface drainage of meltwater and/or collapse. I assessed radial trends in grain size around central pits using thermal inertias calculated from Thermal Emission Imaging System (THEMIS) thermal infrared images. Average grain size decreases with radial distance from pit rims – consistent with pit-derived ejecta but not expected for collapse models. I present a melt-contact model that might enable a delayed explosion, in which a central uplift brings ice-bearing substrate into contact with impact melt to generate steam explosions and excavate central pits during the impact modification stage.

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Date Created
  • 2016

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Structural and Geomorphic Mapping of Northern Claritas Fossae and the Thaumasia Graben, Mars: Implications for Formation

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In this thesis, I investigate possible formation processes in the northern Claritas Fossae and the large Thaumasia graben on Mars. In particular, I assess three proposed formation hypotheses for the

In this thesis, I investigate possible formation processes in the northern Claritas Fossae and the large Thaumasia graben on Mars. In particular, I assess three proposed formation hypotheses for the region: a mega-landslide across the Thaumasia plateau, originating in Tharsis and moving to the south-west; a rift system pulling apart Claritas Fossae and opening the large Thaumasia graben generally propagating in a north-south direction: and extension caused by uplifting from underlying dike swarms. Using digital terrain models (DTMs) from the High Resolution Stereo Camera (HRSC) aboard Mars Express and visual images from the Context Camera (CTX) aboard the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO), I analyzed the geomorphic and structural context of the region. Specifically, I produced geomorphologic and structural feature maps, conducted sector diagram analyses of fault propagation direction, calculated and compared extension and strain in local and regional samples, analyzed along strike throw-profiles of faults, and conducted surface age estimates through crater counting. I found that no single formation mechanism fully explains the surface features seen in Northern Claritas Fossae today. Instead I, propose the following sequence of events led to the surface characteristics we now observe. The region most likely underwent two episodes of uplift and extension due to sub-surface magmatic intrusions, then experienced an extensional event which produced the large Thaumasia graben. This was followed by the emplacement of a layer of lava burying the bottom of the Thaumasia graben and the eastern edge of the region. Additional extension followed across the eastern portion of the study area, and finally of a young lava flow was emplaced abutting and overprinting the southwestern edge.

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Date Created
  • 2019

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The Late Cenozoic Climatic and Tectonic Evolution of the Mount Everest Region, Central Himalaya

Description

The collision of India and Eurasia constructed the Himalayan Mountains. Questions remain regarding how subsequent exhumation by climatic and tectonic processes shaped the landscape throughout the Late Cenozoic to create

The collision of India and Eurasia constructed the Himalayan Mountains. Questions remain regarding how subsequent exhumation by climatic and tectonic processes shaped the landscape throughout the Late Cenozoic to create the complex architecture observed today. The Mount Everest region underwent tectonic denudation by extension and bestrides one of the world’s most significant rain shadows. Also, glacial and fluvial processes eroded the Everest massif over shorter timescales. In this work, I review new bedrock and detrital thermochronological and geochronological data and both one- and two-dimensional thermal-mechanical modeling that provides insights on the age range and rates of tectonic and erosional processes in this region.

A strand of the South Tibetan detachment system (STDS), a series of prominent normal-sense structures that dip to the north and strike along the Himalayan spine, is exposed in the Rongbuk valley near Everest. Using thermochronometric techniques, thermal-kinematic modeling, and published (U-Th)/Pb geochronology, I show exhumation rates were high (~3-4 mm/a) from at least 20 to 13 Ma because of slip on the STDS. Subsequently, exhumation rates dropped drastically to ≤ 0.5 mm/a and remain low today. However, thermochronometric datasets and thermal-kinematic modeling results from Nepal south of Everest reveal a sharp transition in cooling ages and exhumation rates across a major knickpoint in the river profile, corresponding to the modern-day Himalayan rainfall transition. To the north of this transition, exhumation histories are similar to those in Tibet. Conversely, < 3 km south of the transition, exhumation rates were relatively low until the Pliocene, when they increased to ~4 mm/a before slowing at ~3 Ma. Such contrasting exhumation histories over a short distance suggest that bedrock exhumation rates correlate with modern precipitation patterns in deep time, however, there are competing interpretations regarding this correlation.

My work also provides insights regarding how processes of glacial erosion act in a glacio-fluvial valley north of Everest. Integrated laser ablation U/Pb and (U-Th)/He dating of detrital zircon from fluvial and moraine sediments reveal sourcing from distinctive areas of the catchment. In general, the glacial advances eroded material from lower elevations, while the glacial outwash system carries material from higher elevations.

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Created

Date Created
  • 2017