The oldest joint set in Devonian rocks of western New York state has an atypical NS strike and predates regionally more abundant NW-striking and ENE-striking joints driven by hydrocarbon-related fluid decompression. The NS joints originated in higher modulus diagenetic carbonate and were driven initially by a different mechanism, either joint-normal stretching and/or thermoelastic contraction. The origin of these joints in higher modulus carbonate concretions indicates the presence of a tensile stress produced by uniform regional extensional strain. Upper Devonian shale hosting the NS joints crops out in that area of the Appalachian Basin where a Morrowan erosional unconformity marks the region of maximum upward lithospheric flexure of an early Alleghanian forebulge. The NS strike of these early joints points to a forebulge stretching axis oriented approximately east-west and associated in time and space with crustal loading that drove both the Northfieldian Orogeny and the underplating of the Bronson Hill Anticlinorium in New England. Ultimately, subsidence of the Morrowan forebulge buried the Upper Devonian shale succession to the oil window during the latter part of the Alleghanian tectonic cycle resulting in the propagation of fluid driven NW- and ENE-trending joints in black shale.
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