Geophysical expression of elements of the Rio Grande rift in the northeast Tusas Mountains - Preliminary interpretations
Benjamin J. Drenth, Kenzie J. Turner, Ren A. Thompson, V. J. S. Grauch, Michaela A. Cosca, and John P. Lee

Abstract:

New interpretations of the nature of the Rio Grande rift and pre-existing rocks in the northeast Tusas Mountains region are derived from new and existing gravity and aeromagnetic data. 12-15 mGal amplitude gravity lows are interpreted to mainly reflect large thicknesses of the upper Oligocene to upper Miocene, syn-rift Los Pinos Formation and possibly significant amounts of the Eocene El Rito Formation. The Broke Off Mountain sub basin, named after the location of its greatest inferred depth, is interpreted to be a ~40 km long and ~13 km wide structure elongated in a northwest trend at the western margin of the San Luis Basin. The sub basin is interpreted to contain a maximum combined thickness of 900-2300 m of the Los Pinos Formation and El Rito Formation, with the Los Pinos Formation constituting the majority of the section. Sub basin age is constrained to be older than 21.6 ± 1.4 Ma, the age of a Hinsdale Formation basalt flow that caps the Los Pinos Formation section at Broke Off Mountain. This age constraint and surface geology indicate a pre- and early-rift age. The structural fabric of the northeast Tusas Mountains region is dominated by northwest-trending normal faults, as indicated by geologic mapping and interpretation of aeromagnetic data. Preliminary analysis of the aeromagnetic data suggests that lineaments, possibly reflecting faulting, trend through volcanic rocks as young as Pliocene in age. If correct, these interpretations challenge commonly held beliefs regarding two stages in the structural style of rifting, where early (Oligocene-Miocene) rifting was characterized by broad, shallow basins bounded by northwest-trending faults and later (Miocene-Pliocene) rifting was characterized by deep, narrow basins bounded by north-trending faults. The Broke Off Mountain sub basin is a counter example of a pre- and early-rift, deep and narrow basin. We hypothesize that the Broke Off Mountain sub basin may represent a southward extension of the Monte Vista graben in Colorado, based on similarities in geophysical expression, stratigraphy, and its position at the western portion of the San Luis Basin.


Citation:

  1. Drenth, Benjamin J.; Turner, Kenzie J.; Thompson, Ren A.; Grauch, V. J. S.; Cosca, Michaela A.; Lee, John P., 2011, Geophysical expression of elements of the Rio Grande rift in the northeast Tusas Mountains - Preliminary interpretations, in: Geology of the Tusas Mountains and Ojo Caliente Area, Koning, Daniel J.; Karlstrom, Karl E.; Kelley, Shari A.; Lueth, Virgil W.; Aby, Scott B., New Mexico Geological Society, Guidebook, 62nd Field Conference, pp. 165-176.

More information...