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Linkages of Laramide Thrusts, Northern Sangre de Cristo Range, Colorado
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- Laramide thrust belts in the Colorado Rocky Mountains have been mapped as discrete units with little investigation into the linkage between displacements. The Elk Range-Sawatch and Elkhorn thrust systems displaced Precambrian, Paleozoic, and Mesozoic rocks toward the southwest. The Sangre de Cristo Range and Wet Mountains thrust systems displaced rocks toward the northeast. The opposite vergence and oppositely directed displacements between these systems must be accommodated, both at present levels of exposure and at depth. Mapping of the Kerber Creek area west of the northern Sangre de Cristo Range by J.M. Bedford helped answer the question of the linkage between the opposing Elk Range-Sawatch and Sangre de Cristo Range thrusts. In the Elk Range-Sawatch system the westward displacement on the thrusts is interpreted as a minimum of 11 km in the southern Elk Range with displacement decreasing toward the north. Bryant (1966) interpreted the timing of faulting as Paleocene in age. In the Sangre de Cristo Range northeast-verging thrust system the minimum estimated eastward displacement is 8 km. Burbank and Goddard (1937) interpreted the displacement as Eocene in age. The timing of the faulting in the two areas is not necessarily different. The Kerber Creek area lies between the two regions of oppositely facing displacement. Its internal structure most closely resembles that of the more proximal Sangre de Cristo deformation. Thrusts in the Kerber Creek area place Precambrian rocks over Laramide(?) and Paleozoic sedimentary rocks. The structures verge toward the north-northeast and represent a minimum of several kilometers of displacement. These Laramide structures are exposed where overlying Tertiary volcanics are eroded. In the Northern Sangre de Cristo Range a set of E-W trending faults intersects the generally N-S trending Laramide thrusts, possibly representing a partitioning of northeast transport into N-S and E-W components. The E-W trending deformation can be correlated across the San Luis Valley with the thrust faults in the Kerber Creek area. Correlation of the Kerber Creek thrusts with Sangre de Cristo faults extends the northeast directed Laramide deformation 22 km northwest of the edge of the Sangre de Cristo Range. Thus the link between the oppositely verging structures must continue toward the northwest, possibly beneath the Bonanza volcanic field. Further mapping toward the southern extent of the Elk Range-Sawatch thrust system may reveal how the opposite vergence and minimum 8-10 km of displacement are accommodated.
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- University of Arizona
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- Chase, Clement G.
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