Year of Publication

2004

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Dissertation

College

Arts and Sciences

Department

Geology

First Advisor

Dr. William A. Thomas

Abstract

Transverse zones are important syn-kinematic components of thrust belt development. Various scales of data were utilized to develop three-dimensional geometric and kinematic models for the Bessemer transverse zone (BTZ) of the Alabama Alleghanian thrust belt.

Regional analysis of the BTZ began with the examination of geologic maps (1:250,000, 1:48,000, and 1:24,000 scales), seismic reflection profiles, well data, and previous stratigraphic research. All Paleozoic-age stratigraphic contacts, major thrust faults and associated folds, and various unnamed minor structures were compiled to create two strike-perpendicular, and five-strike parallel, cross sections transecting the extent of the BTZ at a scale of 1:100,000. The balanced and viable cross sections were used to create palinspastic maps of the BTZ. The deformed cross sections and geologic maps, and the restored cross sections and palinspastic maps, model the post- and prekinematic geometry of the transverse zone, respectively.

Additional geological fieldwork in the northwestern part of the BTZ permitted the construction of geologic maps (1:24,000 scale) documenting cross-strike links (the fundamental unit of transverse zones) exposed at the present erosional surface (Concord and McCalla 7.5 quadrangles). Balanced and viable geologic cross sections (1:24,000 scale) were constructed from these data and placed parallel and perpendicular to strike of cross-strike links. The cross sections were restored and used to create 1:24,000-scale palinspastic maps of the cross-strike links in this part of the BTZ. The cross sections and maps model the three-dimensional geometry of the cross-strike links comprising the BTZ.

Sub-allochthon basement structures are present beneath the thrust transport vectors of cross-strike links in the BTZ, indicating genetic relationships between transverse zone structures and underlying basment structures. Basement-graben related changes in the stratigraphic thickness of the decollement-host horizon are interpreted as having localized and facilitated growth of the Bessemer mushwad, a ductile duplex in the allochthon. The muswad localized the structural position of two thrust sheets and several cross-strike links in the BTZ. Geologic map patterns of the transverse zone indicate a break-back deformation sequence for the BTZ, interpreted as a response to decollement propagation through an allochthon-spanning weak decollement-host horizon, which had large stratigraphic thickness variations in basement grabens.

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