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  1. Crustal thickening has been a key process of collision-induced Cenozoic deformation along the Indus-Yarlung suture zone, yet the timing, geometric relationships, and along-strike continuities of major thrusts, such as the Great Counter thrust and Gangdese thrust, remain inadequately understood. In this study, we present findings of geologic mapping and thermo- and geochronologic, geochemical, microstructural, and geothermobarometric analyses from the easternmost Indus-Yarlung suture zone exposed in the northern Indo-Burma Ranges. Specifically, we investigate the Lohit and Tidding thrust shear zones and their respective hanging wall rocks of the Lohit Plutonic Complex and Tidding and Mayodia mélange complexes. Field observations are consistent with ductile deformation concentrated along the top-to-the-south Tidding thrust shear zone, which is in contrast to the top-to-the-north Great Counter thrust at the same structural position to the west. Upper amphibolite-facies metamorphism of mélange rocks at ∼9−10 kbar (∼34−39 km) occurred prior to ca. 36−30 Ma exhumation during slip along the Tidding thrust shear zone. To the north, the ∼5-km-wide Lohit thrust shear zone has a subvertical geometry and north-side-up kinematics. Cretaceous arc granitoids of the Lohit Plutonic Complex were emplaced at ∼32−40 km depth in crust estimated to be ∼38−52 km thick at that time. These rocks cooled from ca. 25 Ma to 10 Ma due to slip along the Lohit thrust shear zone. We demonstrate that the Lohit thrust shear zone, Gangdese thrust, and Yarlung-Tsangpo Canyon thrust have comparable hanging wall and footwall rocks, structural geometries, kinematics, and timing. Based on these similarities, we interpret that these thrusts formed segments of a laterally continuous thrust system, which served as the preeminent crustal thickening structure along the Neotethys-southern Lhasa terrane margin and exhumed Gangdese lower arc crust in Oligocene−Miocene time. 
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  2. Abstract The Ruby Mountains–East Humboldt Range–Wood Hills–Pequop Mountains (REWP) metamorphic core complex, northeast Nevada, exposes a record of Mesozoic contraction and Cenozoic extension in the hinterland of the North American Cordillera. The timing, magnitude, and style of crustal thickening and succeeding crustal thinning have long been debated. The Pequop Mountains, comprising Neoproterozoic through Triassic strata, are the least deformed part of this composite metamorphic core complex, compared to the migmatitic and mylonitized ranges to the west, and provide the clearest field relationships for the Mesozoic–Cenozoic tectonic evolution. New field, structural, geochronologic, and thermochronological observations based on 1:24,000-scale geologic mapping of the northern Pequop Mountains provide insights into the multi-stage tectonic history of the REWP. Polyphase cooling and reheating of the middle-upper crust was tracked over the range of <100 °C to 450 °C via novel 40Ar/39Ar multi-diffusion domain modeling of muscovite and K-feldspar and apatite fission-track dating. Important new observations and interpretations include: (1) crosscutting field relationships show that most of the contractional deformation in this region occurred just prior to, or during, the Middle-Late Jurassic Elko orogeny (ca. 170–157 Ma), with negligible Cretaceous shortening; (2) temperature-depth data rule out deep burial of Paleozoic stratigraphy, thus refuting models that incorporate large cryptic overthrust sheets; (3) Jurassic, Cretaceous, and Eocene intrusions and associated thermal pulses metamorphosed the lower Paleozoic–Proterozoic rocks, and various thermochronometers record conductive cooling near original stratigraphic depths; (4) east-draining paleovalleys with ∼1–1.5 km relief incised the region before ca. 41 Ma and were filled by 41–39.5 Ma volcanic rocks; and (5) low-angle normal faulting initiated after the Eocene, possibly as early as the late Oligocene, although basin-generating extension from high-angle normal faulting began in the middle Miocene. Observed Jurassic shortening is coeval with structures in the Luning-Fencemaker thrust belt to the west, and other strain documented across central-east Nevada and Utah, suggesting ∼100 km Middle-Late Jurassic shortening across the Sierra Nevada retroarc. This phase of deformation correlates with terrane accretion in the Sierran forearc, increased North American–Farallon convergence rates, and enhanced Jurassic Sierran arc magmatism. Although spatially variable, the Cordilleran hinterland and the high plateau that developed across it (i.e., the hypothesized Nevadaplano) involved a dynamic pulsed evolution with significant phases of both Middle-Late Jurassic and Late Cretaceous contractional deformation. Collapse long postdated all of this contraction. This complex geologic history set the stage for the Carlin-type gold deposit at Long Canyon, located along the eastern flank of the Pequop Mountains, and may provide important clues for future exploration. 
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  3. Abstract Our study used zircon (U-Th)/He (ZHe) thermochronology to resolve cooling events of Precambrian basement below the Great Unconformity surface in the eastern Grand Canyon, United States. We combined new ZHe data with previous thermochronometric results to model the <250 °C thermal history of Precambrian basement over the past >1 Ga. Inverse models of ZHe date-effective uranium (eU) concentration, a relative measure of radiation damage that influences closure temperature, utilize He diffusion and damage annealing and suggest that the main phase of Precambrian cooling to <200 °C was between 1300 and 1250 Ma. This result agrees with mica and potassium feldspar 40Ar/39Ar thermochronology showing rapid post–1400 Ma cooling, and both are consistent with the 1255 Ma depositional age for the Unkar Group. At the young end of the timescale, our data and models are also highly sensitive to late-stage reheating due to burial beneath ∼3–4 km of Phanerozoic strata prior to ca. 60 Ma; models that best match observed date-eU trends show maximum temperatures of 140–160 °C, in agreement with apatite (U-Th)/He and fission-track data. Inverse models also support multi-stage Cenozoic cooling, with post–20 Ma cooling from ∼80 to 20 °C reflecting partial carving of the eastern Grand Canyon, and late rapid cooling indicated by 3–7 Ma ZHe dates over a wide range of high eU. Our ZHe data resolve major basement exhumation below the Great Unconformity during the Mesoproterozoic (1300–1250 Ma), and “young” (20–0 Ma) carving of Grand Canyon, but show little sensitivity to Neoproterozoic and Cambrian basement unroofing components of the composite Great Unconformity. 
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  4. Abstract The Great Unconformity of the Rocky Mountain region (western North America), where Precambrian crystalline basement is nonconformably overlain by Phanerozoic strata, represents the removal of as much as 1.5 b.y. of rock record during 10-km-scale basement exhumation. We evaluate the timing of exhumation of basement rocks at five locations by combining geologic data with multiple thermochronometers. 40Ar/39Ar K-feldspar multi-diffusion domain (MDD) modeling indicates regional multi-stage basement cooling from 275 to 150 °C occurred at 1250–1100 Ma and/or 1000–700 Ma. Zircon (U-Th)/He (ZHe) dates from the Rocky Mountains range from 20 to 864 Ma, and independent forward modeling of ZHe data is also most consistent with multi-stage cooling. ZHe inverse models at five locations, combined with K-feldspar MDD and sample-specific geochronologic and/or thermochronologic constraints, document multiple pulses of basement cooling from 250 °C to surface temperatures with a major regional basement exhumation event 1300–900 Ma, limited cooling in some samples during the 770–570 Ma breakup of Rodinia and/or the 717–635 Ma snowball Earth, and ca. 300 Ma Ancestral Rocky Mountains cooling. These data argue for a tectonic control on basement exhumation leading up to formation of the Precambrian-Cambrian Great Unconformity and document the formation of composite erosional surfaces developed by faulting and differential uplift. 
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  5. null (Ed.)
    Abstract Crooked Ridge and White Mesa in northeastern Arizona (southwestern United States) preserve, as inverted topography, a 57-km-long abandoned alluvial system near the present drainage divide between the Colorado, San Juan, and Little Colorado Rivers. The pathway of this paleoriver, flowing southwest toward eastern Grand Canyon, has led to provocative alternative models for its potential importance in carving Grand Canyon. The ∼50-m-thick White Mesa alluvium is the only datable record of this paleoriver system. We present new 40Ar/39Ar sanidine dating that confirms a ca. 2 Ma maximum depositional age for White Mesa alluvium, supported by a large mode (n = 42) of dates from 2.06 to 1.76 Ma. Older grain modes show abundant 37–23 Ma grains mostly derived ultimately from the San Juan Mountains, as is also documented by rare volcanic and basement pebbles in the White Mesa alluvium. A tuff with an age of 1.07 ± 0.05 Ma is inset below, and hence provides a younger age bracket for the White Mesa alluvium. Newly dated remnant deposits on Black Mesa contain similar 37–23 Ma grains and exotic pebbles, plus a large mode (n = 71) of 9.052 ± 0.003 Ma sanidine. These deposits could be part of the White Mesa alluvium without any Pleistocene grains, but new detrital sanidine data from the upper Bidahochi Formation near Ganado, Arizona, have similar maximum depositional ages of 11.0–6.1 Ma and show similar 40–20 Ma San Juan Mountains–derived sanidine. Thus, we tentatively interpret the <9 Ma Black Mesa deposit to be a remnant of an 11–6 Ma Bidahochi alluvial system derived from the now-eroded southwestern fringe of the San Juan Mountains. This alluvial fringe is the probable source for reworking of 40–20 Ma detrital sanidine and exotic clasts into Oligocene Chuska Sandstone, Miocene Bidahochi Formation, and ultimately into the <2 Ma White Mesa alluvium. The <2 Ma age of the White Mesa alluvium does not support models that the Crooked Ridge paleoriver originated as a late Oligocene to Miocene San Juan River that ultimately carved across the Kaibab uplift. Instead, we interpret the Crooked Ridge paleoriver as a 1.9–1.1 Ma tributary to the Little Colorado River, analogous to modern-day Moenkopi Wash. We reject the “young sediment in old paleovalley” hypothesis based on mapping, stratigraphic, and geomorphic constraints. Deep exhumation and beheading by tributaries of the San Juan and Colorado Rivers caused the Crooked Ridge paleotributary to be abandoned between 1.9 and 1.1 Ma. Thermochronologic data also provide no evidence for, and pose substantial difficulties with, the hypothesis for an earlier (Oligocene–Miocene) Colorado–San Juan paleoriver system that flowed along the Crooked Ridge pathway and carved across the Kaibab uplift. 
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