Kinematic evidence for the effect of changing plate boundary conditions on the tectonics of the northern U.S. Rockies

Dylan Schmeelk, Rebecca Bendick, Michael Stickney, Cody Bomberger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

We derive surface velocities from GPS sites in the interior Northwest U.S. relative to a fixed North American reference frame to investigate surface tectonic kinematics from the Snake River Plain (SRP) to the Canadian border. The Centennial Tectonic Belt (CTB) on the northern margin of the SRP exhibits west directed extensional velocity gradients and strain distributions similar to the main Basin and Range Province (BRP) suggesting that the CTB is part of the BRP. North of the CTB, however, the vergence of velocities relative to North America switches from westward to eastward along with a concomitant rotation of the principal stress axes based on available seismic focal mechanisms, revealing paired extension in the northern Rockies and shortening across the Rocky Mountain Front. This change in orientation of surface velocities suggests that the change in the boundary conditions on the western margin of North America influences the direction of gravitational collapse of Laramide thickened crust. Throughout the study region, fault slip rate estimates calculated from the new geodetic velocity field are consistently larger than previously reported fault slip rates determined from limited geomorphic and paleoseismic studies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1090-1102
Number of pages13
JournalTectonics
Volume36
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 1 2017

Keywords

  • North America
  • continental tectonics
  • fault slip rates
  • geodesy
  • kinematics

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