The Tualatin basin, west of Portland (Oregon, USA), coincides with a 110 mGal gravity low along the Puget-Willamette lowland. New gravity measurements (n = 3000) reveal a three-dimensional (3-D) subsurface geometry suggesting early development as a fault-bounded pull-apart basin. A strong northwest-trending gravity gradient coincides with the Gales Creek fault, which forms the southwestern boundary of the Tualatin basin. Faults along the northeastern margin in the Portland Hills and the northeast-trending Sherwood fault along the southeastern basin margin are also associated with gravity gradients, but of smaller magnitude. The gravity low reflects the large density contrast between basin fill and the mafic crust of the Siletz terrane composing basement. Inversions of gravity data indicate that the Tualatin basin is ∼6 km deep, therefore 6 times deeper than the 1 km maximum depth of the Miocene Columba River Basalt Group (CRBG) in the basin, implying that the basin contains several kilometers of low-density pre-CRBG sediments and so formed primarily before the 15 Ma emplacement of the CRBG. The shape of the basin and the location of parallel, linear basin-bounding faults along the southwest and northeast margins suggest that the Tualatin basin originated as a pull-apart rhombochasm. Pre-CRBG extension in the Tualatin basin is consistent with an episode of late Eocene extension documented elsewhere in the Coast Ranges. The present fold and thrust geometry of the Tualatin basin, the result of Neogene compression, is superimposed on the ancestral pull-apart basin. The present 3-D basin geometry may imply stronger ground shaking along basin edges, particularly along the concealed northeast edge of the Tualatin basin beneath the greater Portland area.
- Received 14 March 2013.
- Revision received 6 January 2014.
- Accepted 22 January 2014.
- © 2014 Geological Society of America