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Apatite fission track and (U-Th)/He thermochronological data provide new constraints on the timing of faulting and exhumation of the Wassuk Range, western Nevada, where east dipping normal faults have accommodated large-magnitude ENE-WSW oriented extension. Extensional deformation has resulted in the exhumation of structurally coherent fault blocks that expose sections of preextensional mostly granitic upper crust in the Grey Hills and central Wassuk Range. These fault blocks display westward tilts of ∼60° and expose preextensional paleodepths of up to ∼8.5 km, based on the structural reconstruction of tilted preextensional Tertiary andesite flows that unconformably overlie Mesozoic basement rocks. Apatite fission track and (U-Th)/He thermochronological data from the fault blocks constrain the onset of rapid footwall exhumation at ∼15 Ma. Fission track modeling results indicate rapid fault block exhumation occurred between ∼15 and 12 Ma, which is in agreement with Miocene volcanic rocks that bracket the tilting history. In addition, fission track and (U-Th)/He data suggest reduced rates of cooling following major extension, as well as renewed cooling related to active, high-angle faulting along the present-day range front starting at ∼4 Ma. Thermochronological data from structurally restored fault blocks indicate a preextensional Miocene geothermal gradient of 27° ± 5°C/km. The thermochronological constraints on the timing of extensional faulting and the eruptive history in the Wassuk Range imply a model for extension where crustal heating and volcanism precede the onset of rapid large magnitude extension, and where synextensional magmatism is suppressed during the highest rates of extension.




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