Joint networks hosted in successively younger rocks, developing as a result of forced (trishear) folding of a rock mass above a deep-seated fault, can be used to infer the reactivation history of that deep-seated fault. This study aims to use joint networks in Pennsylvanian, Permian and Cretaceous rocks to document evidence of reactivation on basement faults during the Paleozoic and Mesozoic of Nebraska and Kansas. The most prominent basement features in southeast Nebraska and northeast Kansas are oriented NE-SW, likely related to the Midcontinent Rift System and Nemaha Uplift, and oriented NW-SE, likely related to fabrics from the Central Plains Orogeny. These features are well defined in the potential fields data. Joint patterns in the study area show an E-W oriented trend, as well as clearly discernable NE-SW and subsidiary N-S and NW-SE trends. The E-W trend is interpreted to be related to far-field stresses from Laramide and Ancestral Rocky Mountain orogenic events, whilst the NE-SW trend is interpreted to be related to subtle reactivation on the Mid-continent rift and related faults, observed in basement data. These movements produced stresses of sufficient magnitude to produce joints in the post-rift rock units, but not sufficient to generate shear fractures. Similarly, the ~N-S and NW-SE joint trends are taken as evidence of subtle reactivation on the Nemaha Uplift and Central Plains Orogeny systems, generating joints by the formation of forced folds. This contribution therefore provides a convincing case study of the value of coupled potential fields and surface feature studies in discerning buried tectonic trends and subtle reactivation thereon.
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