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In the Fort Irwin region of the northern Mojave desert, late Cenozoic east striking sinistral faults predominate over northwest striking dextral faults of the same age. Kinematic indicators and offset marker units indicate dominantly sinistral strike slip on the east striking portions of the faults and sinistral-thrust slip on northwest striking, moderately dipping segments at the east ends of the blocks. Crustal blocks ∼7–10 km wide by ∼50 km long are bounded by complex fault zones up to 2 km wide at the edges and ends of each block. Faulting initiated after ∼11 Ma, and Quaternary deposits are faulted and folded. We document a minimum of 13 km cumulative sinistral offset in a north-south transect from south of the Bicycle Lake fault to north of the Drinkwater Lake fault. Paleomagnetic results from 50 sites reveal two direction groups in early and middle Miocene rocks. The north-to-northwest declinations of the first group are close to the middle Miocene reference pole. However, rock magnetic studies suggest that both primary and remagnetized directions are present in this group. The northeast declinations of the second group are interpreted as primary and 63.5° ± 7.6° clockwise from the reference pole and suggest net post middle Miocene clockwise rotation of several of the east trending blocks in the northeast Mojave domain. The Jurassic Independence Dike Swarm in Fort Irwin may be rotated 25–80° clockwise relative to the swarm north of the Garlock fault, thus supporting the inference of clockwise rotation. Using a simple-shear model that combines sinistral slip and clockwise rotation of elongate crustal blocks, we predict ∼23° clockwise rotation using the observed fault slip, or one-third that inferred from the paleomagnetic results. The discrepancy between slip and rotation may reflect clockwise bending at the ends of fault blocks, where most of our paleomagnetic sites are located. However, at least 25°–40° of clockwise tectonic rotation is consistent with the observed slip on faults within the domain plus possible “rigid-body” rotation of the region evidenced by clockwise bending of northwest striking domain-bounding faults. Our estimates of sinistral shear and clockwise rotation suggest that approximately half of the 65 km of dextral shear in the Eastern California Shear Zone over the last 10 m.y. occurred within the northeast Mojave Domain. The remainder must be accommodated in adjacent structural domains, e.g., east of the Avawatz Mountains and west of the Goldstone Lake fault. Supporting Appendices 1 and 2 are available on diskette or via Anonymous FTP from, directory APEND (Username -- anonymous, Password = guest). Diskette may be ordered from American Geophysical Union, 2000 Florida Avenue, N.W, Washington, DC 20009 or by phone at 800-966-2481; $15.00. Payment must accompany order.

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© 1996 American Geophysical Union. View original article in Tectonics, DOI: 10.1029/96TC00131.

Subjects - Topical (LCSH)

Paleomagnetism--Cenozoic; Faults (Geology)--California

Geographic Coverage

Mojave Desert