Extensional Tectonics, Basin and Range

We have carried out numerous projects related to lithospheric extension in the Basin and Range province--from the study of metamorphic core complexes to the slip histories of normal faults that cut the brittle crust, producing the corrugated topography of the province today. Read more about our specific projects listed under "research" and in the papers listed under publications. 

Basin and Range

You can see forever: View across the northwestern Basin and Range province, northern Nevada


A Basin and Range normal fault and associated basin in geologic cross-section and as imaged by seismic reflection profiling from Lerch et al. (2009) (in press)



Where are we working now?  Shaded relief map of the northern Basin and Range province shows the unusual normal-fault related topographic features associated with the province--the result of crustal extension beginning ~ 45 Ma ago and continuing today.  There are still unsolved questions as to why the province is located where it is, when and where it extended through time, and what caused it to form (and continue to form).   Some of our current and past project areas:  1.  Anne Egger, Derek Lerch, Joe Colgan, Warner Range and surroundings (completed), 2. Joe Colgan and Derek Lerch (completed), 3.  Nick Van Buer (in progress), 4. Ben Surpless (completed), 5.  Ariel Strickland (completed), 6.  Ariel Strickland, Alex Constantinos, Elizabeth Miller, Trevor Dumitru and others (in progress), 7.  Simon Klemperer's geophysical investigation of the Ruby Mountains core complex, (in progress) 8. Julie Fosdick (completed).  

Some recent publications:

2008 Fosdick, J. C., and Colgan J. P., Miocene extension in the East Range, Nevada; a two- stage history of normal faulting in the northern Basin and Range. Geological Society of America Bulletin 120, (9-10) (Sep): 1198-1213.

2008 Colgan, J.P., Shuster, D.L., and Reiners, P.W., Two-phase Neogene extension of the northwestern Basin and Range recorded in a single thermochronology sample: Geology, v. 36(8), p. 631-634, doi:10.1130/G24897A.1.

2009 Egger, A.E., Colgan, J.P., and York, C., Provenance and palaeogeographic implications of Eocene-Oligocene sedimentary rocks in the northwestern Basin and Range: International Geology Review, v. 51, p. 900 - 919.

2010 Egger, A.E., Glen, J.M.G. and Ponce, D.A., The northwestern margin of the Basin and Range Province, Part 2: Structural setting of a developing basin from seismic and potential field data, Tectonophysics Volume 488, Issues 1-4 ,p.150-161.

2010 Van Buer, N.J. and Miller, E.L., The Sahwave Batholith, NW Nevada:  Cretaceous arc flare-up in a basinal setting, Lithosphere, V.2, p. 423- 446. 

2011 Egger, A.E and Miller, E.L., Evolution of the northwestern margin of the Basin and Range: The geology and extensional history of the Warner Range and environs, northeastern California, Geosphere, doi: 10.1130/GS620.1.

2011 Colgan, J.P., Egger, A.E., John, D.A., Cousens, B., Fleck, R.J., and Henry, C.D. Oligocene and Miocene arc volcanism in northeastern California: Evidence for post-Eocene segmentation of the subducting Farallon plate: Geosphere, v. 7, p. 733-755, doi:10.1130/GES00650.1.

 2011 Strickland, A., Miller, E.L., and Wooden, J.,Kozdon, R. and Valley, J.W., Syn-extensional crustal melting and plutonism in the Albion-Raft River-Grouse Creek metamorphic core complex, American Journal of Science v. 311, no.4m 261-314.

2011 Strickland, A., Miller, E.L. and Wooden, J., The timing of Tertiary metamophism and deformation in the Albion-Raft River-Grouse Creek metamorphic core complex, Utah and Idaho, Journal of Geology v. 119, p. 185-206.

Van Buer, N.J., submitted, Geologic Map of the Sahwave and Nightingale Ranges, Pershing County, Nevada:  Nevada Bureau of Mines and Geology Open-File Report, scale 1:62,500.

2012  Miller, E.L., Konstantinou, A. and Strickland, A., 2012, Comment on, “Geodynamics of syn-convergent extension and tectonic mode switching:  Constraints from the Sevier-Laramide orogen” by Michael L. Wells et al., Tectonics, v. 31, TC4015, doi:10.1029/2012TC003103.

2012  Konstantinou, A., Strickland, A., Miller, E.L. and Wooden, J.P., 2012, Multistage Cenozoic extension of the Albion-Raft River-Grouse Creek metamorphic core complex:  Geochronologic and stratigraphic constraints, Geophere, doi: 10.1130/GES00778.



  • 2009   Vanbuer, N., Miller, E.L and Dumitru, T.,Tertiary paleogeologic map of the northern Sierra Nevada batholith, Geology v. 37, p. 371-374.
  • 2008   Gashawbeza, E.M., Klemperer, S.L., Wilson, C.K. and Miller, E.L., Nature of the crust beneath northwest Basin and Range province from teleseismic receiver function data, Journal Geophysical Research v. 113, B10308.
  • 2008   Lerch, D.W., Miller, E.L., McWilliams, M.O., and Colgan, J.P., 2008,Tectonic and magmatic evolution of the northwestern Basin and Range and its transition to unextended volcanic plateaus: Black Rock Range: Geological Society of America Bulletin v. 120, p. 300-311.
  • 2007   Mattinson, C.G., Colgan, J.P., Metcalf, J.R., Miller, E.L., and Wooden, J.L., Late Cretaceous to Paleocene metamorphism and magmatism in the Funeral Mountains metamorphic core complex, Death Valley, CA, Geological Society of America Special Paper 419, Convergent Margin Terranes and Associated Regions: A volume in honor of W. G. Ernst, ed. Cloos, M., Carlson, W.D., Gilbert, M.C., Liou, J.G., and Sorenson, S.S., p. 205-223.
  • 2007   Miller, E.L. and the Stanford Geological Survey, 2007,Digital Geologic map of Great Basin National Park and Vicinity, Nevada (NPS, GRD,GRE, GRBA) http://science.nature.nps.gov/nrdata/quickoutput.cfm?type=ds&cat=geology&key=GRE&parkcode=GRBA
  • 2007   Lerch, D.W., Klemperer, S.L., Glen, J.M.G., Ponce, D.A., Miller, E.L., and Colgan, J.P., Crustal structure of the northwestern Basin and Range Province and its transition to unextended volcanic plateau: Geochemistry, Geophysics, and Geosystems,Q02011, doi:10.1029/2006GC001429 ISSN: 1525-2027
  • 2006   Colgan, J.P., T.A. Dumitru, E.L. Miller, and P.W. Reiners, Cenozoic tectonic evolution of the Basin and Range Province in northwestern Nevada, American Journal of Science, v. 306, p. 616-654.
  • 2006   Colgan, J.P., T.A. Dumitru, M. McWilliams, and E.L. Miller, Timing of Cenozoic volcanism and Basin and Range extension in northwestern Nevada: New constraints from the northern Pine Forest Range, Geological Society of America Bulletin, v. 118, p. 126-139.
  • 2004   Colgan, J.P., T.A. Dumitru, and E.L. Miller, Diachroneity of Basin and Range extension and Yellowstone hotspot volcanism in northwestern Nevada, Geology, v. 32, p. 121-124.
  • 2003   Egger, A.E., T.A. Dumitru, E.L. Miller, C.F.I. Savage, and J.L. Wooden, Timing and nature of Tertiary plutonism and extension in the Grouse Creek Mountains, Utah, International Geology Review, v. 45, p. 497-532.
  • 2003   Stockli, D.F., T.A. Dumitru, M.O. McWilliams, and K.A. Farley, Cenozoic tectonic evolution of the White Mountains, California and Nevada, Geological Society of America Bulletin, v. 115, p. 788-816.
  • 2002   D.F. Stockli, B.E. Surpless, T.A. Dumitru, and Farley, K.A., Thermochronologic constraints on the timing and magnitude of Miocene and Pliocene extension in the central Wassuk Range, western Nevada, Tectonics, v. 21, no. 4, 10.1029/2001TC001295.
  • 2002   Surpless, B.E., D.F. Stockli, T.A. Dumitru, and E.L. Miller, Elizabeth L., Two-phase westward encroachment of Basin and Range extension into the northern Sierra Nevada, Tectonics, v. 21, no. 1, 10.1029/2000TC001257.
  • 2000   Stockli, D.F., Farley, K.A., and Dumitru, T.A., Calibration of the apatite (U-Th)/He thermochronometer on an exhumed fault block, White Mountains, California, Geology, v. 28, p. 983-986.
  • 1999   Miller, E.L., Dumitru, T.A., Brown, R.W., and Gans, P.B., Rapid Miocene slip on the Snake Range-Deep Creek Range fault system, east-central Nevada: GSA Bulletin, v. 111, p. 886-905.
  • 1991   Dumitru, T.A., P.B. Gans, D.A. Foster, and E.L. Miller, Refrigeration of the western Cordilleran lithosphere during Laramide shallow-angle subduction, Geology, v. 19, p. 1145-1148.