New mapping combined with fault-slip and thermochronological data show that Middle Miocene to recent extension and exhumation of the Slate Range, eastern California, is produced by the active Searles Valley fault system and the Slate Range detachment, an older Middle Miocene low-angle normal fault. Offset Middle Miocene rocks record a combined ∼9 km of west-directed extension over the past ∼14 m.y. for the fault zones. (U-Th)/He apatite cooling ages of samples from the central and southern Slate Range indicate that footwall cooling began ca. 14 Ma; we interpret this as the age of initiation of motion on the Slate Range detachment. This timing is consistent with inferences made using stratigraphic and structural criteria. Data from the northern Slate Range show that rapid fault slip began along the Searles Valley fault ca. 4 Ma; data from the central and southern Slate Range can be interpreted as indicating cooling at 5–6 Ma. This timing correlates to the results of nearby studies, suggesting a strain transition in the surrounding area between ca. 6 and 3 Ma. The data collected are most consistent with a westward migration in the locus of transtensional deformation, and show that the initiation of that deformation commonly lags the timing predicted by plate reconstructions by a few million years.
- Received 13 May 2013.
- Revision received 24 August 2013.
- Accepted 12 February 2014.
- © Geological Society of America