skip to main content


Title: Late Cretaceous arc flare up and sinistral intra-arc ductile deformation in the southern California batholith, 2022, Late Cretaceous arc flare up and sinistral intra-arc ductile deformation in the southern California batholith
We present >90 new igneous and metamorphic zircon and titanite petrochronology ages from the eastern Transverse Ranges of the Southern California Batholith (SCB) to investigate magmatic and tectonic processes in the frontal arc during postulated initiation of Late Cretaceous shallow-slab subduction. Our data cover >4000 km2 in the eastern Transverse Ranges and include data from Mesozoic plutons in the Mt. Pinos, Alamo Mountain, San Gabriel Mountain blocks, and the Eastern Peninsular mylonite zone. Igneous zircon data reveal 4 discrete pulses of magmatism at 258-220 Ma, 160-142 Ma, 120-118 Ma, and 90-66 Ma. The latter pulse involved a widespread magmatic surge in the SCB and coincided with garnet-granulite to upper amphibolite-facies metamorphism and partial melting in the lower crust (Cucamonga terrane, eastern San Gabriel Mountains). In this region, metamorphic zircons in gneisses, migmatites and calc-silicates record high-temperature metamorphism from 91 to 74 Ma at 9–7 kbars and 800–730°C. The Late Cretaceous arc flare-up was temporally and spatially associated with the development of a regionally extensive oblique sinistral-reverse shear system that includes from north to south (present-day) the Tumamait shear zone (Mt. Pinos), the Alamo Mountain-Piru Creek shear zone, the Black Belt shear zone (Cucamonga terrane), and the Eastern Peninsular Ranges shear zone. Syn-kinematic, metamorphic titanite ages in the Tumamait shear zone range from 77–74 Ma at 720–700°C, titanites in the Black Belt mylonite zone give an age of 83 Ma, and those in the eastern Peninsular Ranges mylonite zone give ages of 89–86 Ma at 680–670°C. These data suggest a progressive northward younging of ductile shearing at amphibolite- to upper-amphibolite-facies conditions from 88 to 74 Ma, which overlaps with the timing of the Late Cretaceous arc flare-up event. Collectively, these data indicate that arc magmatism, high-temperature metamorphism, and intra-arc contraction were active in the SCB throughout the Late Cretaceous. These observations appear to contradict existing models for the termination of magmatism and refrigeration of the arc due to underthrusting of the conjugate Shatsky rise starting at ca. 88 Ma. We suggest that shallow-slab subduction likely postdates ca. 74 Ma when high-temperature metamorphism ceased in the SCB.  more » « less
Award ID(s):
2138734
NSF-PAR ID:
10415241
Author(s) / Creator(s):
; ; ; ; ; ;
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Geological Society of America Abstracts with Programs
Volume:
54
Issue:
5
Page Range / eLocation ID:
10.1130/abs/2022AM-381618
Format(s):
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. The Late Cretaceous arc flare-up event from 90 to 70 in the Transverse Ranges of the Southern California Batholith was temporally and spatially associated with the development of a large contractional shear system that includes discontinuous segments of the Tumamait shear zone (Mt. Pinos), the Alamo Mountain-Piru Creek shear zone, the Black Belt shear zone (Cucamonga terrane), and the Eastern Peninsular Ranges shear zone. The age and kinematics of these shear zones inform the tectonic setting of the continental arc in Southern California during the beginning of the Laramide orogeny and during postulated large-magnitude dextral translations along the margin (the Baja-BC hypothesis). The Mt. Pinos sector of the Southern California Batholith preserves the intra-arc, transpressional Tumamait shear zone and the ductile-to-brittle Sawmill thrust, both of which record Late Cretaceous deformation. The batholith and shear zone are hosted by Mesoproterozoic biotite gneisses and migmatites (1750-1760 Ma), Neoproterozoic biotite granites (660 Ma), Permo-Triassic granitic gneisses and amphibolite (260-250 Ma), and Late Jurassic granites and gneisses (160-140 Ma). Late Cretaceous rocks are variably deformed and include porphyritic granodiorite gneisses and peraluminous granites emplaced at 86 to 70 Ma. Mylonites of the Tumamait shear zone affect all rocks in the area and generally strike NW-SE and dip moderately to the NE and SW. Mineral stretching lineations plunge shallowly to the SE. Mylonitic fabrics are folded into a regional, SE-plunging synform that results in alternating bands of sinistral and dextral shear fabrics. Syn-kinematic titanites from 5 mylonitic samples give a 720-700°C temperature range, and lower-intercept 206Pb/238U dates of 77.0 Ma, 76.8 Ma, 75.1 Ma, 74.2 Ma, and 74.0 Ma. Subsequent folding of the mylonite is linked to N-directed motion on the Sawmill thrust. 40Ar-39Ar thermochronology ages of 67-66 Ma and onlapping Eocene shales indicate Latest Cretaceous activity on the thrust, prior to Eocene arc collapse. Based on the age of the Tumamait shear zone, we speculate that it is related to sinistral deformation observed in the nearby Alamo Mountain-Piru Creek and the Black Belt shear zones. We attribute the younger Sawmill thrust to collision of the Hess oceanic plateau with the Southern California Batholith after 70 Ma. 
    more » « less
  2. We explore the growth of lower-continental crust by examining the root of the Southern California Batholith, a ~ 500-km-long, paleo-arc segment of the Mesozoic California arc that lies between the southern Sierra Nevada batholith and northern Peninsular Ranges Batholith. We focus on the Cucamonga and San Antonio terranes located in the eastern San Gabriel Mountains where the deep root of the Mesozoic arc is exhumed by the Quaternary Cucamonga thrust fault. This lower- to mid-crustal cross section of the arc allows us to investigate: 1) the timing and rates of Mesozoic arc construction, 2) mechanisms of sediment incorporation into the lower crust, and 3) the interplay between mantle input and crustal recycling during arc magmatic surges. We use detrital zircon geochronology of 4 quartzites and paragneisses to investigate the origin of the lower-crustal Cucamonga paragneiss sequence, and U-Pb petrochronology of 26 orthogneisses to establish the timing of arc magmatism and granulite-facies metamorphism. We find that the Cucamonga paragneisses share broad similarities to Sur Series metasedimentary rocks in the Salinia terrane, suggesting that both were deposited in a Late Paleozoic to Early Mesozoic forearc or intra-arc basin. This basin was progressively underthrust beneath the arc during the Middle Jurassic to Late Cretaceous and was metamorphosed during two high-grade (>750°C) migmatization events at ca. 124 and 89–75 Ma. These metamorphic events were associated with 100 m.y. of arc magmatism that lasted from 175 to 75 Ma and culminated in a magmatic surge from ca. 90–75 Ma. Field observations and petrochronology analyses indicate that partial melting of the underthrust Cucamonga metasedimentary rocks was triggered by emplacement of voluminous, mid-crustal tonalites and granodiorites. Partial melting of the metasedimentary rocks played a subsidiary role relative to mantle input in driving the Late Cretaceous magmatic flare-up event. Our observations demonstrate that tectonic incorporation of sediments into the lower crust led to structural, compositional and rheological changes in the architecture of the arc including vertical thickening. These structural changes created weak zones that preferentially focused deformation and promoted present-day reactivation along the Cucamonga thrust fault. 
    more » « less
  3. We explore the growth of lower-continental crust by examining the root of the Southern California Batholith, a ~ 500-km-long, paleo-arc segment of the Mesozoic California arc that lies between the southern Sierra Nevada batholith and northern Peninsular Ranges Batholith. We focus on the Cucamonga and San Antonio terranes located in the eastern San Gabriel Mountains where the deep root of the Mesozoic arc is exhumed by the Quaternary Cucamonga thrust fault. This lower- to mid-crustal cross section of the arc allows us to investigate: 1) the timing and rates of Mesozoic arc construction, 2) mechanisms of sediment incorporation into the lower crust, and 3) the interplay between mantle input and crustal recycling during arc magmatic surges. We use detrital zircon geochronology of 4 quartzites and paragneisses to investigate the origin of the lower-crustal Cucamonga paragneiss sequence, and U-Pb petrochronology of 26 orthogneisses to establish the timing of arc magmatism and granulite-facies metamorphism. We find that the Cucamonga paragneisses share broad similarities to Sur Series metasedimentary rocks in the Salinia terrane, suggesting that both were deposited in a Late Paleozoic to Early Mesozoic forearc or intra-arc basin. This basin was progressively underthrust beneath the arc during the Middle Jurassic to Late Cretaceous and was metamorphosed during two high-grade (>750°C) migmatization events at ca. 124 and 89–75 Ma. These metamorphic events were associated with 100 m.y. of arc magmatism that lasted from 175 to 75 Ma and culminated in a magmatic surge from ca. 90–75 Ma. Field observations and petrochronology analyses indicate that partial melting of the underthrust Cucamonga metasedimentary rocks was triggered by emplacement of voluminous, mid-crustal tonalites and granodiorites. Partial melting of the metasedimentary rocks played a subsidiary role relative to mantle input in driving the Late Cretaceous magmatic flare-up event. Our observations demonstrate that tectonic incorporation of sediments into the lower crust led to structural, compositional and rheological changes in the architecture of the arc including vertical thickening. These structural changes created weak zones that preferentially focused deformation and promoted present-day reactivation along the Cucamonga thrust fault. 
    more » « less
  4. The Southern California Batholith is a ~500-km-wide segment of the Mesozoic California arc that lies between the northern Peninsular Ranges and the southern Sierra Nevada mountains. We use structural data and U-Pb zircon analyses from the eastern San Gabriel mountains to examine how the batholith responded to the onset of the Laramide orogeny during the Late Cretaceous. Zircon analyses show that the middle and lower crust of the batholith was hot and records a magmatic flareup from 90-77 Ma. From 90 to 86 Ma, tonalite of the San Sevaine Lookout intruded a thick package of metasedimentary rock that records a history of reverse displacements, crustal imbrication, and granulite metamorphism prior to tonalite intrusion. During the early stages of the magmatic flare-up, granodiorite dikes were emplaced and soon became tightly folded and disaggregated as younger sheets of comagmatic tonalite intruded. Deformation accompanied the magmatism, forming two parallel shear zones several 100 m thick. These two shear zones, which include the Black Belt Mylonite, are composed of thin (≤10 m) high-strain zones spaced several tens of meters apart. Each discrete high-strain zone contains subparallel layers of mylonite, ultramylonite, cataclasite and pseudotachylyte, all recording oblique sinistral-reverse displacements on gently and moderately dipping surfaces. This architecture, whereby individual high-strain zones are widely spaced and parallel the margins of intruding tonalite sheets, reveals the influence of magma emplacement on shear zone structure. U-Pb zircon geochronology on syn-tectonic dikes indicate that these different styles of deformation all formed within the same 89-85 Ma interval, suggesting that they reflect non-steady flow on deep seismogenic faults. Widespread (garnet) granulite-facies metamorphism and partial melting accompanied intrusion of the tonalites and sinistral- reverse displacements. The ages of undeformed dikes indicate that the deformation was over by 77-75 Ma. Together, these data show that arc magmatism and transpression within the Mesozoic California arc occurred from ~90 until ~75 Ma, implying that flat-slab subduction and the migration of the Laramide orogenic front into the North America interior occurred after ~75 Ma. 
    more » « less
  5. The Southern California batholith contains a geologic record that can help clarify the timing of events that occurred during the Late Cretaceous (100-65 Ma) along the western margin of the North American Cordillera. The subduction of the oceanic conjugate Shatsky plateau beneath North America is postulated to have ended active magmatism in the arc at 88-70 Ma; however, the timing of this event is poorly constrained in Southern California. We use U-Pb laser ablation zircon petrochronology to document the timing and conditions of magmatism and metamorphism in the lower crust of the Cretaceous arc. We focus on the Cucamonga terrane in a part of the Southern California batholith located northeast of Los Angeles in the southeastern San Gabriel Mountains. These rocks contain exhumed lower crustal (7-9 kbar) rocks predominantly composed of granulite-facies metasedimentary rocks, migmatites, charnockite and dioritic to tonalitic gneiss. We report 20 new zircon dates from 11 samples, including 4 mafic biotite gneisses, 3 mylonitic tonalites, 2 charnockites, a quartzite, and a felsic pegmatite dike crosscutting granulite-facies metasedimentary rocks. New 206Pb/238U ages show that magmatism occurred in the Middle Jurassic (ca. 172-166 Ma), the Early Cretaceous (ca. 120-118 Ma), and the Late Cretaceous (88-86 Ma) at temperatures ranging from 740 to 800 oC. Granulite-facies metamorphism and partial melting of these rocks occurred during the 88-74 Ma interval at temperatures ranging from 730°C to 800oC. Our data indicate that high-temperature arc magmatism and granulite-facies metamorphism continued through the Late Cretaceous and overlapped in timing with postulated subduction of the conjugate Shatsky plateau from previous models. We speculate that termination of arc activity and cooling of the lower crust in response to plateau subduction must postdate ca. 74 Ma. 
    more » « less