The nature of deformation within the outer limits of the central appalachian foreland fold and thrust belt in New York state

Terry Engelder

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52 Scopus citations


Residual strain, a self-equilibrating recoverable strain that remains in rocks even after external forces and moments are removed, is found NNW of the folded Appalachian plateau in the Devonian Onondaga limestone and the Silurian Lockport dolomite and Grimsby sandstone of western New York. This residual strain is manifest upon overcoring by a NNW directed maximum expansion of the limestone and sandstone and a random maximum expansion of the dolomite. Strains, recorded with strain gauge rosettes bonded to outcrops, are as high as 200 με{lunate} (microstrain). Double overcoring of the sandstone and dolomite relieves smaller strains of the same orientation as the initial overcore. X-ray analysis of the Grimsby sandstone shows that the elastic residual strain locked in quartz grains is characterized by a NE principal extension of 60 με{lunate} and a 10-30 με{lunate} NW principal compression oriented 30° counterclockwise from the NNW compression indicated by overcoring. Sonic velocity tests on samples in the lab indicate that Grimsby sandstone is anisotropic with a NNW maximum P-wave velocity of 4.05 km/sec. This anisotropy correlates with the residual strain in Grimsby sandstone. Mechanical twinning of calcite within both the Onondaga limestone and Grimsby sandstone indicates that the rock contains a permanent compressive strain of less than 2% in the NNW direction. The permanent strain becomes progressively smaller in a series of samples from Syracuse to Buffalo, New York. The development of solution cleavage in Onondaga limestone also indicates a NNW compression. No evidence of permanent strain was found in the dolomite. The NNW compression of the limestone and sandstone is normal to the fold axes of the Appalachian foreland fold and thrust belt. This geometric relationship indicates that the residual strain well beyond the outermost Appalachian folds was caused by the same tectonic stresses responsible for folding, the Appalachians during the late Paleozoic. Strain within the Appalachian plateau below the Silurian salt horizon suggests either the presence of a second décollement in, perhaps, Ordovician shales or a general NNW shortening of the crust under the Appalachian plateau.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)289-310
Number of pages22
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - Jun 10 1979

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geophysics
  • Earth-Surface Processes


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