The Canyonlands National Park, Utah, is famous for its beautiful landscape and spectacular landforms. For many geoscientists it is also well-known as a sandstone reservoir analogue and as a tourist you’ll often run into groups of geologists on field trips. It’s a matter of debate how and how fast the beautiful grabens in the Needles Fault zone formed – these are large arcuate canyons several tens of kilometres in length, paralleling the Colorado River. In a new paper we present results from remote sensing, mapping, and georadar (GPR). Our aim was to better understand the coupling between deformation, erosion and deposition in such an active system. Based on our findings we developed a model of graben formation and describe the geometry of the dilatant faults at depth. We argue that either the grabens are older than previously assumed or that sedimentation rates were much higher in the Pleistocene.
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New paper: Evolution of dilatant faults in the Canyonlands NP, Utah2015-10-06 | in Field work