Timing, rate, and magnitude of slip on the Buckskin-Rawhide detachment fault, west central Arizona



We present thermochronologic and geochronologic data that constrain the slip history of the Buckskin-Rawhide detachment fault in west central Arizona, one of the largest extensional fault systems in the North American Cordillera. (U-Th)/He zircon and apatite thermochronology, integrated with 40Ar/39Ar geochronology of postdetachment volcanic rocks, indicate that large-magnitude extension associated with the detachment fault initiated at ~21–20 Ma and continued until ~12–11 Ma in the southwestern portion of the Buckskin-Rawhide metamorphic core complex. (U-Th)/He footwall cooling ages from the breakaway zone in the western Bouse Hills to upper greenschist-facies mylonites in the southern Buckskin Mountains indicate that the slip rate on the detachment fault was 3 + 1.5/−1 km/Myr during the early Miocene. Space-time patterns of hanging wall tilting suggest that at 17–16 Ma, a secondary detachment fault breakaway developed ~12 km northeast of the primary detachment fault breakaway. Proximal conglomerates deposited in a supradetachment basin adjacent to the secondary breakaway scarp were displaced 6–11 km northeast in the middle Miocene by the Buckskin-Rawhide detachment fault at a slip rate of 1.2–2.7 km/Myr. The total displacement across the detachment fault in the southwestern portion of the core complex is 24 ± 10 km, well short of the previous estimate of 66 ± 8 km across the entire core complex. Based on these data and new observations, we propose that total displacement on the Buckskin-Rawhide detachment fault system increases in the slip direction to ~40–50 km at the northeastern end of the exposed footwall, corresponding to time-averaged slip rates that ranged from ~2 km/Myr to ≤6 km/Myr across the entire core complex.