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Timing of Emplacement and Regional Correlations of the Panamint Thrust, Panamint Mountains, CA.

Abstract

In orogenic belts affected by post-orogenic extension, accurate thrust sheet correlation is required to model the initial geometry of fold and thrust systems. This better enables the discovery and exploitation of hydrocarbon traps and establishes offset markers for restoring later deformational phases. The Panamint thrust (PT), located in the Sevier thrust belt near Death Valley, CA, regularly serves as an offset marker in restorations of Cenozoic deformation. Various investigators have posited conflicting correlations of the PT across Cenozoic fault-bounded basins, resulting in variable estimates of cumulative slip along primary Cenozoic structures (e.g., Snow and Wernicke, 1989; Renik and Christie-Blick, 2013). I propose to test the validity of four plausible PT correlations: 1) the Wheeler Pass thrust, 2) the Schwaub Peak thrust, 3) the Lemoigne thrust, and 4) an unnamed Mesozoic thrust reactivated by the Miocene Boundary Canyon detachment fault (Fig. 1 c). I will achieve this by geologic mapping and field structural analysis to constrain fault geometry, employing Raman spectroscopy of carbonaceous material (RSCM) to determine peak metamorphic temperature profiles across PT exposures, and obtaining zircon (U-Th)/He thermochronology (ZHe) ages that bracket the timing of PT hanging wall exhumation (Fig. 1 a,b). Proposed correlatives will be assessed on the basis of compatibility with this new dataset. My results will improve reconstructions of Sevier thrust systems at the latitude of Death Valley, demonstrate the applicability of RSCM and ZHe to thrust correlation, and constrain the burial history and thermal maturity of hydrocarbon-bearing rocks in the Sevier thrust belt.