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ABSTRACT: Tectonic Controls on Late Cenozoic Strike-Slip Faulting, Volcanism, and Landscape Development in the Mojave Desert, California

Roy K. Dokka, Christopher J. Travis, Timothy M. Ross

Recent studies of the late Cenozoic tectonics of the Mojave Desert Block suggest that strain is regionally heterogeneous and has been partitioned into six domains that are separated by major strike-slip faults and extensional zones. Tectonic rotation of these domains as well as their internal deformation by strike-slip faulting have occurred as the result of broadly distributed regional right shear. Sixty-five kilometers of total right slip is reckoned to have occurred along faults of the southern half of the province (between the Helendale and Granite Mountains faults). The broad network of faults of the Mojave, along with kinematically and temporally similar strike-slip faults of the Death Valley region (Furnace Creek and Southern Death Valley fault zones), constitute a regional, throughgoing zone of right shear named the Eastern California shear zone (ECSZ). This zone of intracontinental shear also likely includes the Walker Lane belt of western Nevada. Because of its physical connection to faults the southern portion of

the San Andreas fault system, the ECSZ must have also accommodated a portion of Pacific-North American transform motion.

In addition to imparting the strong NW structural grain to the region, the tectonic regime has had a profound effect on Neogene paleogeography and has apparently facilitated local magmatism. Faulting and block rotations have created a series of structurally controlled basins and uplifts of many geometries. Extension in several basins has also been accompanied by young basaltic magmatism. These include surface flows such as at Mt. Pisgah (shield volcano) and subsurface dike emplacement beneath Troy Lake.

AAPG Search and Discovery Article #90097©1990 Fifth Circum-Pacific Energy and Mineral Resources Conference, Honolulu, Hawaii, July 29-August 3, 1990