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Field mapping linked with petrogenetic and brittle structural studies of Mesozoic basalt dikes was performed in the Mount Dartmouth 7.5' Quadrangle, adjacent to the Presidential Range, NH. This was done in hopes of creating a better understanding of the intrusion setting and brittle deformational history of the basalt dikes, particularly in relation to the regional tectonic context. Field work done during the summer of 2014 revealed a 100 meter wide, 7.8 km long zone containing multiple mafic dikes that are exceptionally well exposed at the junction of NH Rt. 115 and the Cherry Mountain road. The largest dike in the zone is approximately 20 meters in width, comparable in size to the largest dikes mapped in the Northeast (Christmas Cove dike, Higganum dike, etc.).

The newly named Mill Brook Dike Zone was previously discovered and described by Katherine Fowler-Billings in 1944. The orientation of the Dike Zone is N-S and steeply dipping. Within the zone, the strike and dip of dikes ranges from 207, 63°SE to 178, 79°W to 5, 69°E. The chill margins were approximately 3-5 cm in width, while the core of the dike contained 1-3 cm subhedral plagioclase grains, creating a porphyritic texture. When viewed in thin section, the plagioclase grains show significant core to rim magmatic zoning. Additionally, there is notable alteration of the other minerals, primarily sericite and chlorite alteration. In some samples there is cataclasis of the grains, likely due to hydrothermal alteration during faulting.

The Mill Brook dike cuts through the Jurassic Cherry Mountain syenite pluton along the western edge of the quadrangle, but was not observed to crosscut the Jurassic Conway granite in the south of the quadrangle. A regional, dike-parallel N-S, steeply dipping joint set was also discovered. Previous work in the adjacent Mount Washington region found mafic intrusions and associated joints striking (from oldest to youngest) NE-SW and E-W, but found only joints and no dikes striking N-S related to the youngest joint set. Additionally, no E-W striking joints were observed in the Mount Dartmouth quadrangle. Comparison of fracture data between the two areas of greatest outcrop exposure (Upper Falls and the Mill Brook Bridge) revealed restriction of the N-S paleostress field to the Mill Brook area. This indicates local variations in paleostress fields on a much smaller order of magnitude than previously thought.

Geochemical data from the Mill Brook Dike Zone shows a fractionation trend, indicating that the N-S striking dikes are of one magmatic suite. The data also show that the Mill Brook Dike Zone is geochemically distinct from other comparably large mafic intrusions in the Northeast, signifying that the Mill Brook Dike Zone did not form as part of the Central Atlantic Magmatic Province (CAMP). The Mill Brook Dike Zone and its joints are likely younger than the Late Cretaceous New England-Quebec igneous province and record a significant period of basalt magmatism during E-W extension in the Cretaceous.

Level of Access

Open Access

First Advisor

Eusden, Jr., Dykstra

Date of Graduation

Spring 5-2015

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science

Number of Pages


Open Access

Available to all.