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The AAPG/Datapages Combined Publications Database

AAPG Bulletin


The Oquirrh Basin Revisited1

M. C. Erskine2


The upper Paleozoic succession in the Oquirrh basin is unusually thick, up to 9300 m, and consists mainly of a Pennsylvanian-middle Permian sedimentary package located within the Cordilleran miogeocline of northwestern Utah. Previous workers have suggested a tectonic origin for the Oquirrh basin that is incompatible with the basin location in both time and space. There is no evidence for Pennsylvanian and Lower Permian tectonism in the middle of the miogeocline. Thermal evidence from the Mississippian Mission Canyon shale does not support the implied deep burial of the crustal sag models of basin formation. Stratigraphic and facies evidence indicates a growth fault origin for the basin. Regional isopach maps and facies maps are powerful tools in interpreting depositional environments and in reconstructing fold-and-thrust belts. However, the location of measured sections relative to the location of the growth fault needs special consideration for these tools to be effective in reconstructing a thrusted growth fault basin. The Charleston-Nebo thrust may have essentially reversed the movement on a growth fault. Thick Oquirrh basin sedimentary rocks may not be required to balance structural sections across this thrust fault. A thin-skinned, extensional growth fault origin for the Oquirrh basin implies that the Cordilleran miogeocline did not participate in the Pennsylvanian north-vergent uplifts of the Ancestral Rocky Mountains.

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