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The AAPG/Datapages Combined Publications Database

Rocky Mountain Association of Geologists


The Mountain Geologist
Vol. 53 (2016), No. 2. (April), Pages 93-114

Seismite in the Devonian Sultan Formation, Frenchman Mountain, Nevada: Evidence of far-field effect of the Alamo Event

Jesús A. Pinto, John E. Warme


We interpret a discrete, anomalous ~10-m-thick interval of the shallow-marine Middle to Late Devonian Valentine Member of the Sultan Formation at Frenchman Mountain, southern Nevada, to be a seismite, and that it was generated by the Alamo Impact Event. A suite of deformation structures characterize this unique interval of peritidal carbonate facies at the top of the Valentine Member; no other similar intervals have been discovered in the carbonate beds on Frenchman Mountain or in equivalent Devonian beds exposed in ranges of southern Nevada. The disrupted band extends for 5 km along the Mountain, and onto the adjoining Sunrise Mountain fault block for an additional 4+km. The interval displays a range of brittle, ductile and fluidized structures, and is divided into four informal bed-parallel units based on discrete deformation style and internal features that carry laterally across the study area. Their development is interpreted as the result of intrastratal compressional and contractional forces imposed upon the unconsolidated to fully cemented near-surface carbonate sediments at the top of the Valentine Member. The result is an assemblage of fractured, faulted, and brecciated beds, some of which were dilated, fluidized and injected to form new and complex matrix bands between beds. We interpret that the interval is an unusually thick and well displayed seismite.

Because the Sultan Formation correlates northward to the Frasnian (lower Upper Devonian) carbonate rocks of the Guilmette Formation, and the Guilmette contains much thicker and more proximal exposures of the Alamo Impact Breccia, including seismites, we interpret the Frenchman Mountain seismite to be a far-field product of the Alamo Impact Event. Accompanying ground motion and deformation of the inner reaches of the Devonian carbonate platform may have resulted in a fall of relative sea level and abrupt shift to a salt-pan paleoenvironment exhibited by the post-event basal beds of the directly overlying Crystal Pass Member.

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