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Passive Seismic Imaging of the Ruby Mountains Core Complex

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Hiking in Ruby Mountains
Hiking in Ruby Mountains

This project will acquire high-resolution seismic data about the Ruby Mountains Core Complex in an effort to understand the processes that occurred during its formation. Information acquired about this area will lead to a better understanding of core complexes in other areas, as well as about extenstional tectonics in general. The Ruby Mountains, part of the Basin and Range in northeastern Nevada, are an excellent target area, as previous work provides geologic information at the surface, and seismic studies have been done in the surrounding area, though not over the Ruby Mountains themselves.

A metamorphic core complex is formed when highly deformed lower crustal rocks are exhumed in the footwall of a large detachment fault. Core complexes are common features both in continental extensional provinces such as the Basin and Range and at oceanic spreading centers, but broad questions still remain about their formation. The Ruby Mountains Core Complex has all the characteristic features of a metamorphic core complex, with a domed metamorphic-plutonic footwall, an unmetamorphosed hanging wall, and a mylonitic sub-horizontal sheared detachment separating them.

In June 2010, Stanford students deployed a passive broadband seismic array consisting of 50 stations with 5-10 km spacing in a line down the axis of the Ruby Range and two crossing profiles. The stations will collected data for two years, and were removed in June 2012. Work is ongoing to analyze the data; see publications section for in-progress results.