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  1. Free, publicly-accessible full text available September 10, 2024
  2. The beginning of the Laramide orogeny is a pivotal time in the geological development of the western United States, but the driving mechanism responsible for mountain building, basin formation and ore mineralization is controversial. Most prominent models suggest this event was caused by the collision of an oceanic plateau with the Southern California Batholith sector of western North America at ca. 88 Ma which caused the angle of subduction beneath the continent to shallow. This subhorizontal (flat) subduction is thought to have led to shut-down of the arc, crustal cooling, and the formation of deep, basement-involved thrust faults that penetrated far into the continental interior. In contrast to these predictions, we show that the Southern California Batholith experienced a magmatic surge from 90 to 70 Ma, the lower crust was hot (835-750°C) and partially molten, and cooling occurred after 75 Ma. These data contradict plateau underthrusting as the driving mechanism for early Laramide deformation at 90-80 Ma; therefore, the Laramide orogeny cannot have been initiated by flat-slab subduction. We propose that the Laramide orogeny is best explained as a two-stage orogeny consisting of: 1) an arc magmatic ‘flare-up’ phase associated with sinistral-reverse ductile shearing in the Southern California Batholith from at 90-75 Ma and coeval dextral-transpression north of the Garlock fault, and 2) a widespread mountain building phase in the Laramide foreland belt from 75-50 Ma. Only that latter phase is linked to flat-slab subduction beneath the Southern California Batholith. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available October 1, 2024
  3. Free, publicly-accessible full text available September 1, 2024
  4. Throughout her career, Professor Sharon Mosher has been a pioneer in the structural analysis of polydeformed rocks and regions. Her work on the evolution of superposed rock fabrics in complexly deformed areas, for example, has greatly improved our ability to determine how faults, shear zones, and orogens evolve over time. Traditionally, sequences of foliations, mineral lineations, folds, and other structural elements have been interpreted in terms of discrete, multiphase deformation events. However, alternative interpretations where structural sequences result from a single, progressive event also are common, especially where changes in stress fields or flow parameters result in non-steady deformation. Here, in honor of Professor Mosher, we present examples of three different types of structural sequences that formed in large seismogenic faults and shear zones in SW New Zealand and southern California. These examples illustrate the different ways in which multiple generations and styles of rock fabrics develop and become preserved in zones of localized deformation. The first example is from a large fault zone located inboard of the Puysegur subduction zone in Fiordland, New Zealand. This zone displays several generations of superposed fabrics that record a history of repeated reactivations over a few tens of millions of years. A second set of examples, from both Fiordland and southern California, illustrates how non-steady deformation can result in parallel ductile and brittle fabrics, including veins of pseudotachylyte, that formed during a single, progressive shearing event. The third example, also from Fiordland, shows how parallel rock fabrics in a large, lower crustal shear zone formed diachronously across a large region as the inboard and outboard belts of the Mesozoic Median batholith converged. Each of these examples displays different structural relationships among rock fabrics in the field. To decipher their histories, we combined structural data with 40Ar/39Ar and U-Pb (zircon, titanite) geochronology. The examples illustrate the utility of combining field observations with both direct and indirect isotopic dating techniques to distinguish between superposed rock fabrics that formed during progressive deformation and those that represent distinct tectonic events. 
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  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. 
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  6. Robles, F. ; Schwartz, J. ; Miranda, E. ; Klepeis, K. ; and Mora-Klepeis, G. (Ed.)
    Ancient basement rocks in Southern California contain mechanical anisotropies that may influence the architecture of Quaternary faulting. We study exposed basement rocks found within the southeastern San Gabriel lithotectonic block with the intention of reconciling the relationship between inherited ductile fabrics and the geometry of Quaternary faults that are part of the San Andreas Fault system. By focusing our study on the southeastern corner of the San Gabriel block we can study the exposed lower- to middle crustal shear zone fabrics near where the Cucamonga Fault and the San Jacinto Fault intersect. The brittle Quaternary Cucamonga Thrust Fault strikes E-W and dips to the north-northeast (35-25°) and is localized at the range front and cuts these older fabrics, however there is also brittle deformation distal from the fault that also affects the sequence of lower- to middle crustal (6-8 kbar) granulite- to upper amphibolite facies mylonite and granulite-facies metasedimentary rocks. Near the Cucamonga Fault, mylonitic fabrics strike E-W and dip northeast (40-50°). Quaternary brittle faults that strike E-W and dip northeast (30-40°) reactivate the mvlonites and slickenlines and record a sinistral, top-to-the-west sense of shear. Investigation of host rocks indicates that they formed in the roots of a continental arc which was active from the Middle Jurassic to Late Cretaceous (172-86 Ma) at 740-800°C. Ductile deformation was associated with granulite-facies metamorphism at approximately 30 km depth during the Late Cretaceous (88-74 Ma) at 730-800 °C. Our work shows that the exhumed Late Cretaceous mylonitic fabrics may have operated as stress guides during Quaternary faulting in the Cucamonga Fault zone. We conclude that these lower crustal fabrics influence the geometry and kinematics of late Cenozoic faulting of the Cucamonga and San Jacinto fault zones. 
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  7. 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. 
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