Spatiotemporal Rates of Tectonic Deformation and Landscape Evolution above a Laterally Propagating Thrust Fault: Wheeler Ridge Anticline, California, USA

Emily J. Kleber, Duane E. DeVecchio, J. Ramón Arrowsmith, Tammy M. Rittenour

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The Wheeler Ridge anticline, located in the southern San Joaquin Valley of California, USA, is a well-studied and classic example of a laterally growing fault propagation fold. New high-resolution lidar elevation data combined with nine infrared stimulated luminescence (IRSL) ages of discrete geomorphic surfaces that are bounded by prominent transverse wind and river gaps allow for investigation of tectonic topography through time. Luminescence ages from four of the six surfaces yield depositional ages that range from 32 ka to 153 ka, which are broadly consistent with a previously published soil chronosequence. Our graphical modeling indicates an average surface uplift rate of ~2.1 mm/yr and an average along-strike fold propagation rate of ~20 mm/yr. However, our probabilistic modelling and topographic analysis suggest a rate decrease of both uplift and lateral propagation toward the fault tip from ~2.4 to 0.7 mm/yr and from ~49 to 14 mm/yr, respectively. Rate decreases are not progressive but rather occur in punctuated deformational intervals across previously documented structural barriers (tear faults) resulting in a fold that is characterized by discrete segments that exhibit a systematic deformational decrease toward the east. The punctuated tectonic growth of Wheeler Ridge has also locally controlled the topographic evolution of the anticline by effecting the formational timing and position of at least seven wind and river gaps that result from multiple north-flowing antecedent streams that traverse the growing structure. We quantify the timing of wind and river gap formation, based on IRSL results and inferred incision rates, and present a model for the spatiotemporal evolution of transverse drainages and the topographic development of Wheeler Ridge. Our chronology of gap formation broadly correlates with regional Late Pleistocene dry climate intervals suggesting that both tectonics and climate were integral to the geomorphic development of the Wheeler Ridge anticline.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-15
Number of pages15
JournalLithosphere
Volume2021
Issue numberSpecialIssue 2
DOIs
StatePublished - 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geology

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