Sedimentation and extensional basin evolution in a Miocene metamorphic core complex setting, Alvord Mountain, central Mojave Desert, California, USA

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ABSTRACT

The Lower Miocene Clews Formation at Alvord Mountain, Mojave Desert, California, comprises an upward coarsening sequence of synextensional continental deposits of variable thickness; this sequence pinches out to the west against the Alvord Mountain pre-Tertiary basement complex and thickens eastward to c.300 m over a distance of 7 km. Two stages of sedimentation are recognized in the formation. During the initial stage of sedimentation, the depocentre was delineated by a lacustrine system that was bounded to the west by small, sheetflood-dominated alluvial fans and to the north by a southerly flowing fluvial braidplain. Lacustrine mudstone, siltstone and carbonate suggest an initially closed basin. Conglomerate to the west represents small, sheetflood-dominated fans. Igneous clasts and a south-east palaeoflow direction suggest a proximal, low-relief source in the western Alvord Mountain area. Pebbly sandstone of the southward-prograding braidplain has a metasedimentary provenance in the Paradise Range to the north. The second stage of deposition was dominated by coarse conglomerate and breccia. West to southwest palaeotransport indicators and a distinctive metaigneous petrofacies indicate a provenance in the Cronese Hills, 8 km to the east. These strata reflect rapid westward progradation of sheetflood- and debris flow-dominated alluvial fans that advanced across the axial braidplain and lacustrine system.

Basin development is interpreted to have been controlled by regional NE-directed extension on a detachment fault associated with the central Mojave metamorphic core complex. 30 km to the west. The Alvord Mountain - Cronese Hills region was initially transported as a single hangingwall block on the E-dipping detachment. Initial lacustrine sedimentation reflects the development of a flexural or sag basin in the hangingwall. Subsequent westward progradation of alluvial fans out of the Cronese Hills is believed to record the propagation of a NW-striking, SW-dipping normal fault antithetic to the low-angle E-dipping detachment fault.

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