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Keywords:

  • Walker Lane;
  • Wassuk Range;
  • Thermochronology;
  • Mina Deflection;
  • Basin and Range

Abstract

[1] Apatite (AHe) and Zircon (ZHe) (U-Th)/He thermochronometric data from the southern Wassuk Range (WR) coupled with 40Ar/39Ar age data from the overlying tilted Tertiary section are used to constrain the thermal evolution of an extensional accommodation zone and tilt-domain boundary. AHe and ZHe data record two episodes of rapid cooling related to the tectonic exhumation of the WR fault block beginning at ~15 and ~4 Ma. Extension was accommodated through fault-block rotation and variably tilted the southern WR to the west from ~60°–70° in the central WR to ~15°–35° in the southernmost WR and Pine Grove Hills, and minimal tilting in the Anchorite Hills and along the Mina Deflection to the south. Middle Miocene geothermal gradient estimates record heating immediately prior to large-magnitude extension that was likely coeval with the extrusion of the Lincoln Flat andesite at ~14.8 Ma. Geothermal gradients increase from ~19° ± 4°C/km to ≥ 65° ± 20°C/km toward the Mina Deflection, suggesting that it was the focus of Middle Miocene arc magmatism in the upper crust. The decreasing thickness of tilt blocks toward the south resulted from a shallowing brittle/ductile transition zone. Postmagmatic Middle Miocene extension and fault-block advection were focused in the northern and central WR and coincidentally moderated the large lateral thermal gradient within the uppermost crust.