Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)



First Advisor

Keith A. Klepeis


Near Burlington, Vermont, the Champlain Thrust fault placed massive Cambrian dolostones over calcareous shales of Ordovician age during the Ordovician Taconic Orogeny. Although the Champlain Thrust has been studied previously throughout the Champlain Valley, the architecture and structural evolution of its fault zone have never been systematically defined. To document these fault zone characteristics, a detailed structural analysis of multiple outcrops was completed along a 51 km transect between South Hero and Ferrisburgh, Vermont.

The Champlain Thrust fault zone is predominately within the footwall and preserves at least four distinct events that are heterogeneous is both style and slip direction. The oldest stage of structures—stage 1—are bedding parallel thrust faults that record a slip direction of top-to-the-W and generated localized fault propagation folds of bedding and discontinuous cleavages. This stage defines the protolith zone and has a maximum upper boundary of 205 meters below the Champlain Thrust fault surface. Stage 2 structures define the damage zone and form two sets of subsidiary faults form thrust duplexes that truncate older recumbent folds of bedding planes and early bedding-parallel thrusts. Slickenlines along stage 2 faults record a change in slip direction from top-to-the-W to top-to-the-NW. The damage zone is ~197 meters thick with its upper boundary marking the lower boundary of the fault core. The core, which is ~8 meters thick, is marked by the appearance of mylonite, phyllitic shales, fault gouge, fault breccia, and cataclastic lined faults. In addition, stage 3 sheath folds of bedding and cleavage are preserved as well as tight folds of stage 2 faults. Stage 3 faults include thrusts that record slip as top-to-the-NW and -SW and coeval normal faults that record slip as top-to-the-N and -S. The Champlain Thrust surface is the youngest event as it cuts all previous structures, and records fault reactivation with any top-to-the-W slip direction and a later top-to-the-S slip. Axes of mullions on this surface trend to the SE and do not parallel slickenlines.

The Champlain Thrust fault zone evolved asymmetrically across its principal slip surface through the process of strain localization and fault reactivation. Strain localization is characterized by the changes in relative age, motion direction along faults, and style of structures preserved within the fault zone. Reactivation of the Champlain Thrust surface and the corresponding change in slip direction was due to the influence of pre-existing structures at depth. This study defines the architecture of the Champlain Thrust fault zone and documents the importance of comparing the structural architecture of the fault zone core, damage zone, and protolith to determine the comprehensive fault zone evolution.



Number of Pages

109 p.

Included in

Geology Commons