Cominco American Well: Implications for the Reconstruction of the Sevier Orogen and Basin and Range Extension in West-Central Utah

Anders, Mark H.; Christie-Blick, Nicholas; Malinverno, Alberto

Re-evaluation of acoustic, gamma ray and dip meter logs from the Cominco American Federal No. 2 well in the Sevier Desert basin of west-central Utah sheds new light on the interpretation of Neoproterozoic and Cambrian stratigraphy and Mesozoic structure in a region that has been influential in the development of ideas about crustal shortening and extension. The most prominent of several major thrust faults (the Canyon Range and Pavant thrusts) have been interpreted by DeCelles and Coogan (2006) [Regional structure and kinematic history of the Sevier fold-and-thrust belt, central Utah: Geological Society of America Bulletin, v. 118, n. 7-8, p. 841-864,] as having been cut and in part re-activated between late Oligocene and Holocene time by as much as 47 km of displacement on the gently west-dipping Sevier Desert detachment. This interpretation, which is based upon a combination of outcrop, seismic reflection and well data, depends critically on the Canyon Range thrust intersecting the Cominco well at a depth of 2,551 to 2,557 m (8,370-8,389 ft.), and terminating downwards against a re-activated Pavant thrust. Our work suggests that the fault at 2,551 m (8,370 ft.) is a strand of the Pavant thrust, and that the Canyon Range thrust cuts the well at a depth of 1,222 m (4,010 ft.). This alternative interpretation depends in turn on identification of the section between the two faults as terminal Neoproterozoic to middle Cambrian Prospect Mountain Quartzite through Chisholm Formation rather than Neoproterozoic "Pocatello Formation," "Blackrock Canyon Limestone" and lower Caddy Canyon Quartzite. To support this interpretation we present evidence for stratigraphic repetition and for deformation at the 1,222 m (4,010 ft.) level. Use of the lithostratigraphic terms "Pocatello" and "Blackrock Canyon" in west-central Utah is shown to be inappropriate, and among the reasons that the critical interval in the Cominco well has been misinterpreted by some authors. If the Canyon Range and Pavant thrusts are both found in the Cominco well, as we suggest, then they cannot be used as a piercing point for the estimation of displacement on the Sevier Desert detachment or as justification for the existence of the detachment. Published estimates of extension across the Sevier Desert basin therefore need to be reduced, potentially to as little as ∼ 10 km.

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American Journal of Science

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