My most recent research explores the plate scale tectonic mechanisms that drove uplift and basin development within the Pennsylvanian-Permian Ancestral Rocky Mountains. This project is funded primarily through Pioneer Natural Resources and is in collaboration with Paul Umhoefer, Mike Smith, and Nancy Riggs.
Many decades of research have resulted in a detailed understanding of the structural and sedimentologic evolution of individual Ancestral Rocky Mountain uplifts and associated basins. However, the overall tectonic mechanisms for uplift and subsidence remain debated. Various tectonic drivers have been proposed including foreland stress related to the progressive closure of the Ouachita-Marathon belt, wrenching associated with this closure, left-lateral slip along major pre-existing continental weaknesses, flat-slab subduction along the southwest (Sonoran) Laurentian margin, reactivation of pre-existing basement faults, and mafic underplating of Ancestral Rocky Mountains uplifts. However, none of these models fully accounts for the geometry and kinematics of Ancestral Rocky Mountains uplifts and the lack of any associated magmatic activity.
Work on this project led to new tectonic model of this system that better accounts for the kinematics and timing of deformation and basin subsidence in Geology last year. A paper on sediment routing and provenance within Ancestral Rocky Mountain Basins is underway.