Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Geological Sciences


Philip C. Goodell


Crustal rupture structures reactivated in the course of the tectonic history of northern Mexico are the surface expressions of planes of weakness, in the form of simple or composite rectilinear features or slightly curved, defined as lineaments. Unless otherwise defined as strike-slip faults, lineaments are part of parallel and sub-parallel oblique convergent or oblique divergent tectonic zones cross cutting the Sierra Madre Occidental and northern Mexico, in a NW trend. These shear zones are the response to the oblique subduction of the Farallon plate beneath North America.

Kinematic analysis of five selected sites in northern Mexico, three basins and two compressional shear zones, proved possible a combination of shear mechanism diagram and models from analogue materials, with satellite imagery and geographic information systems, as an aid to define strike-slip fault motion. This was done using a reverse engineering process by comparing geometries. One of the sites assessed, involving the Parras Basin, Coahuila Block (CB), San Marcos fault, a postulated PBF-1 fault, allowed for palinpastic reconstruction of the CB that corroborated the results of the vector motion defined, in addition to an extension of ~25% in a northwest southeast direction.

A GIS-based compilation and georeferenced regional structural studies by several researchers were used as ground control areas (GCA); their interpolation and interpretation, resulted in a tectonic framework map of northern Mexico. In addition, shaded relief models overlaid by the lineaments / fault layer allowed structural analyses of basins related to these major structures. Two important results were obtained from this study: the Tepehuanes-San Luis-fault (TSL) and the Guadalupe fault, named herein, displaces the Villa de Reyes graben, and the Aguascalientes graben, respectively, to the SE, confirming their left lateral vector motion; afterwards TSL was displaced south by the right lateral strike slip Taxco-San Miguel de Allende fault. The second result refers to the hypothesis that the Mesa Central was brought to its present location by a subduction zone located to the north. This subduction zone coincides with several researchers who postulated the idea. The compressional zones refer to segments of the Sinforosa and a postulated Aquinquari fault located in the stratotectonic Guerrero Terrane regarded as a highly mineralized zone.

Negative anomalies near -200 milligals are strongly suggestive of a cratonic block identified in western Chihuahua, it being named the Western Chihuahua Cratonic Block (WCCB). In the southwestern portion of the North American craton the age provinces are well documented, but the block versus mobile belt idea has not been put forth or emphasized. The present study combines data of several types, sedimentological, structural, igneous geochemistry, and geochronologic data to evaluate this behavior in SW NA, and the proposed block is tested against these data. The presence of the WCCB is supported by a wide variety of data.

Basins, troughs, aulacogens, bimodal volcanism, and other rift and rift shoulder features, characterize the spatially constrained mobile belts. Mobile belts surrounding the WCCB contain geologic records of the events going back to 1.4 Ga, with different aspects being dominant over geologic time. Mobile belts will participate in compression,(subduction), extension (rifting), and transform (lateral) faulting. The WCCB may have been derived from closely, adjacent, North American craton by mobile belt action.

This study has shown that integration of data is essential, because allows detection of differences in hypotheses for the same event in the same area. This integration capability is what makes integrated geographic information systems a powerful tool, not only for their synergy, but because they can be combined with specific techniques that provide data before going to conduct fieldwork.

Whether the issue of defining the tectonic framework of northern Mexico can be resolved or not, depends on the viability of integrating volumes of data from research, hypotheses, or maps, and put together under the same geographic frame.




Received from ProQuest

File Size

196 pages

File Format


Rights Holder

Carlos Manuel Martinez