A detailed structural study of Rock Canyon (near Provo, Utah) provides insight into Wasatch Range tectonics and fold-thrust belt kinematics. Excellent exposures along the E-W trending canyon allow the use of digital photography in conjunction with traditional field methods for a thorough analysis of Rock Canyon's structural features. Detailed photomontages and geometric and kinematic analyses of some structural features help to pinpoint deformation mechanisms active during the canyon's tectonic history. Large-scale images and these structural data are synthesized in a balanced cross section, which is used to reconstruct the structural evolution of this portion of the range. Projection of surficial features into the subsurface produces geometrical relationships that correlate well with a fault-bend fold model involving one or more subsurface imbrications. Kinematic data (e.g. slickenlines, fractures, fold axes) indicate that the maximum stress direction during formation of the fault-bend fold trended at approximately 120°. Following initial thrusting, uplift and development of a thrust splay produced by duplexing may have caused a shift in local stresses in the forelimb of the Rock Canyon anticline leading to late-stage normal faulting during Sevier compression. These normal faults may have activated deformed zones previously caused by Sevier folding, and reactivated early-stage decollements found in the folded weak shale units and shaly limestones. Movement on most of these normal faults roughly parallels stress directions found during initial thrusting indicating that these extensional features may be coeval with thrusting. Other zones of extension and brittle failure produced by lower ramp geometry appear to have been activated during Tertiary Basin and Range extension along the Wasatch Fault Zone. Slickenline data on these later normal faults suggest a transport direction of nearly E-W distinguishing it from earlier events.



College and Department

Physical and Mathematical Sciences; Geological Sciences



Date Submitted


Document Type





Rock Canyon, Sevier Orogeny, Basin and Range extension, reactivation, structural evolution, damage zone width, synorogenic extension, Wasatch Range, east-dipping normal faults



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Geology Commons