Title page for ETD etd-05132010-175251

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Brown, Summer Jasmine
Author's Email Address summerb@vt.edu
URN etd-05132010-175251
Title Integrating apatite (U-Th)/He and fission track dating for a comprehensive thermochronological analysis: refining the uplift history of the Teton Range
Degree Master of Science
Department Geosciences
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Spotila, James A. Committee Chair
Law, Richard D. Committee Member
Rahl, Jefferey M. Committee Member
  • exhumation
  • thermochronometry
  • Teton Range
  • apatite
Date of Defense 2010-04-29
Availability unrestricted
Uplift of the Teton Range is primarily controlled by displacement across the range-front Teton normal fault. The Tetons comprise the footwall block while the hanging wall encompasses Jackson Hole valley and a portion of the Snake River. Relative to the rest of the Rocky Mountains, the Tetons experienced the majority of uplift very recently, substantiating the need for a detailed investigation integrating structural analysis and bedrock thermochronometry. New low-temperature cooling ages are documented in three vertical transects across the Teton Range and at low elevations parallel to the Teton fault. Samples adjacent to the Teton fault are consistently young (~9 Ma) and represent a minimum estimate for the onset of Teton fault-related uplift. Modeling of time-temperature histories supports a ~9-11 Ma onset of rapid uplift, indicating that the Teton fault likely originated as a Basin and Range-type structure. A maximum throw of ~8 km occurs proximal to the Grand Teton, while the average throw for the entire ~100 km along-strike fault length is ~3.3 km. Thus, the geometry of the Teton fault is comparable to traditional scaling relationships dictating a correlation between fault length and displacement. Inversion of the typical (U-Th)/He (AHe) and fission track (AFT) relationship in a few of the Teton Range samples is a result of intense zoning, primarily in apatite from Precambrian layered gneisses. Nonetheless, both the AHe and AFT ages consistently indicate slight differential uplift of the Tetons between the Late Oligocene and Middle Miocene. HeFTy models indicate that doming of the Precambrian-Paleozoic unconformity occurred prior to ~50 Ma. However, by ~15 Ma, rapid cooling of the Mount Moran section essentially “flattened” the unconformity. Thus, the modern domed shape is a result of displacement across the Teton fault, allowing the unconformity to be used as a proxy for fault deformation. Moreover, reconstruction of the unconformity and volume calculations produced an average depth to incision of ~0.3 km and a long-term erosion rate of 0.18 mm/yr. Compared to the long-term uplift rate of 0.22 mm/yr, this provides a quantitative explanation for the modern Teton topography.

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