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Megabreccia Deposits in an Extensional Basin: the Miocene-Pliocene Horse Camp Formation, East-Central Nevada

SCHMITT, JAMES G., and CHERYL L. BROWN, Montana State University, Bozeman, MT

Three varieties of megabreccia deposits are present in alluvial-lacustrine extensional basin fill of the Miocene-Pliocene Horse Camp Formation of east-central Nevada. Coherent debris sheets (150-300 m thick; up to 1500 m long) consist of Oligocene-Miocene volcanic rock masses which are internally fractured yet retain their stratigraphic integrity. Fracture zones show variable amounts of displacement (up to 5 cm) and brecciation. These debris sheets overlie horizontally stratified sandstone and laminated claystone interpreted as playa deposits and are overlain by lithified grus. Emplacement of these coherent debris sheets was by landslide or block slide. Associated deposits of large boulders within playa facies suggest gliding of blocks broken from the edges of the landslides across we playa surfaces.

Incoherent debris sheets (30-45 m thick; up to 1050 m long) consist of clast-supported angular fragments of Paleozoic dolomite and sandstone (up to 300 cm) in a muddy matrix. They are interpreted as deposits of clast-rich debris flows.

Large (1.6-2.4-km-long) allochthonous blocks consist of intact Paleozoic and Tertiary volcanic stratigraphic sequences which are brecciated and attenuated. Brecciation is accompanied in places by incorporation of muddy sand matrix. These blocks may be fragments of the upper plate of low-angle detachment faults which broke away as gravity-driven blocks from the nearby Horse Range and slid along the uplifted former detachment surface into the adjacent Horse Camp basin.

Megabreccia deposits characterize Tertiary extensional basins in western North America. Detailed analysis of their stratigraphic, sedimentologic, and structural relations can provide a better understanding of the complex tectonosedimentary history of these basins.

 

AAPG Search and Discovery Article #91010©1991 AAPG Rocky Mountain Section Meeting, Billings, Montana, July 28-31, 1991 (2009)