New Mexico Geological Society Annual Spring Meeting — Abstracts

Tectonic Geomorphology of the Jemez System: Resolving Quaternary River Response to Dynamic Landscapes Using 40Ar/39Ar Geochronology

Cameron Reed1, Karl Karlstrom1, Matthew Heizler2, Benjamin Rodriguez1, Julia Ricci2 and Laura Crossey1

1University of New Mexico, 221 Yale Blvd NE, Albuquerque, NM, 87131,
2New Mexico Bureau of Geology & Mineral Resources, New Mexico Geochronology Research Laboratory, New Mexico Tech, Socorro, NM, 87801

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Compilation of new and published incision rate data in the tributaries of the northern Río Grande system, the fourth longest river in the US, show differential incision (at a scale of 100 m/Ma) as rivers cross the Jemez lineament and Southern Rockies at long wavelengths that may reflect mantle buoyancy driving forces. Two major tributaries of the Jemez River, the Río Salado and Río Guadalupe, drain the western margins of the Valles Caldera and Sierra Nacimientos. Unpublished U-series dated travertines along the Río Salado suggest it is one of the fastest incising river systems in the Southern Rockies. Neotectonic forcings that may focus higher river incision at shorter, subregional wavelength include Pleistocene thermal inflation of the Valles Caldera and/or young faulting. The goal of this project is to evaluate the extent to which epeirogenic uplift or local tectonics may be responsible for the differential incision rates. Climatic forcings are minimized by measuring bedrock incision over million-year timescales that average out glacial-interglacial cycles, and by concentrating on this relatively small area.

We sampled five major previously mapped Quaternary Río Salado terraces (Qt7, Qt6, Qt5, Qt3, Qt1) and found few young grains. A shift in tactics targets clasts potentially derived from rhyolite domes of known ages within specific terraces that we correlate ‘around the corner’ between Tierra Amarilla anticline and Soda Dam. Additional detrital sanidine (DS) geochronology sampling of ‘cryptic’ ashes from river terraces will provide an age-correlation for Qt1 terraces of the Jemez River system. Newly sampled terraces at the confluence of the Río Guadalupe and Jemez River provide Lava Creek B (640 ka) maximum depositional ages (MDA) that may serve as a benchmark terrace to trace downstream. If DS 40Ar/39Ar geochronology supports high incision rates for all these rivers, higher than regional average rates, this may implicate the young (1.61 and 1.23 Ma) Valles Caldera eruptions as the driver of enhanced young surface uplift within a broad region of potential mantle-driven uplift in the Southern Rockies. However, if rates in the Río Salado do not agree with other tributaries and terraces of the Jemez River, this may suggest young reactivation of the Nacimiento fault and neotectonic footwall uplift in its southernmost reaches near the Tierra Amarilla anticline.


Geomorphology, Geochronology, Tectonics, Jemez Mountains, river incision, detrital sanidine

pp. 87

2023 New Mexico Geological Society Annual Spring Meeting
April 21, 2023, Macey Center, Socorro, NM
Online ISSN: 2834-5800