Year of Publication

2010

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Dissertation

College

Arts and Sciences

Department

Earth and Environmental Sciences (Geology)

First Advisor

Dr. William A. Thomas

Abstract

In a well-defined subrecess in the Appalachian thrust belt in northwestern Georgia, two distinct regional strike directions intersect at approximately 50°. Fault intersections and interference folds enable tracing of both structural strikes. Around the subrecess, tectonically thickened weak stratigraphic layers—shales of the Cambrian Conasauga Formation—accommodated ductile deformation associated with the folding and faulting of the overlying Cambrian–Ordovician regional competent layer. The structures in the competent layer are analogous to those over ductile duplexes (mushwads) documented along strike to the southwest in Alabama.

The intersection and fold interference exemplify a long-standing problem in volume balancing of palinspastic reconstructions of sinuous thrust belts. Cross sections generally are constructed perpendicular to structural strike, parallel to the assumed slip direction. An array of cross sections around a structural bend may be restored and balanced individually; however, restorations perpendicular to strike across intersecting thrust faults yield an imbalance in the along-strike lengths of frontal ramps. The restoration leads to a similar imbalance in the surface area of a stratigraphic horizon, reflecting volume imbalance in three dimensions.

The tectonic thickening of the weak-layer shales is evident in palinspastically restored cross sections, which demonstrate as much as 100% increase in volume over the restored-state cross sections. The cause of the surplus shale volume is likely prethrusting deposition of thick shale in a basement graben that was later inverted. The volume balance of the ductile duplex is critical for palinspastic reconstruction of the recess, and for the kinematic history and mechanics of the ductile duplex.

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