North-South Contraction of the Mojave Block and Strike-Slip Tectonics in Southern California

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Science  15 Jun 1990:
Vol. 248, Issue 4961, pp. 1398-1401
DOI: 10.1126/science.248.4961.1398


The Mojave block of southern California has undergone significant late Cenozoic north-south contraction. This previously unappreciated deformation may account for part of the discrepancy between neotectonic and plate-tectonic estimates of Pacific-North American plate motion, and for part of the Big Bend in the San Andreas fault. In the eastern Mojave block, contraction is superimposed on early Miocene crustal extension. In the western Mojave block, contractional folds and reverse faults have been mistaken for extensional structures. The three-dimensional complexity of the contractional structures may mean that rigid-block tectonic models of the region based primarily on paleomagnetic data are unreliable.

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