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  1. In the eastern San Gabriel Mountains, located north of Los Angeles, California, the late Cenozoic Cucamonga thrust has uplifted and exposed the lower crustal root of the Mesozoic Southern California Batholith. We use structural data and U-Pb zircon analyses from these exposures to document changes in the style of intra-arc deformation in the batholith as the Laramide Orogeny began during the Late Cretaceous (at or after ~90 Ma). At the base of the uplifted section, a 4 km-thick package of metasedimentary rock records the intrusion of amphibolite, charnokite and other dikes of probable Jurassic to Early Cretaceous age. The oldest gneissic fabrics (S1, S2) in these rocks record Early Cretaceous partial melting, granulite-facies metamorphism, and top-to-the-S and -SE (present day reference frame) reverse motion on surfaces that dip moderately to the N and NW. These structures define a D1/D2 thrust system that formed on the trench side of the arc and was active during the Early Cretaceous. From 89-77 Ma this thrust system was reactivated by oblique-slip shear zones (D3) that record sinistral-reverse displacements on N- and NW-dipping surfaces. The timing of deformation in these latter shear zones is indicated by the age of 90-85 Ma syn-kinematic intrusions of the Tonalite of San Sevaine Lookout. After emplacement of the tonalite, the lower crustal section was deformed by a series of S-vergent, overturned folds. The emplacement of granodioritic dikes into the axial planes of some of these folds suggests that they formed during the latest stages of D3 transpression and tonalite emplacement. Superimposed on all these structures are a series of ductile-to-brittle thrust faults and folds that appear to be related to formation of the late Cenozoic Cucamonga thrust fault at the southern edge of the San Gabriel mountains. These data show that the Southern California Batholith in the San Gabriel Mountains records a tectonic transition from Early Cretaceous reverse faulting and crustal imbrication on the trench side of the arc to Late Cretaceous transpression and oblique sinistral-reverse deformation during a magmatic flare-up from 89-77 Ma. Another major episode of shortening and crustal imbrication occurred during the late Cenozoic when the Cucamonga thrust uplifted the San Gabriel block. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available October 18, 2024
  2. 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. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available October 15, 2024
  3. Abstract

    The Laramide orogeny is a pivotal time in the geological development of western North America, but its driving mechanism is controversial. Most prominent models suggest this event was caused by the collision of an oceanic plateau with the Southern California Batholith (SCB) which caused the angle of subduction beneath the continent to shallow and led to shut-down of the arc. Here, we use over 280 zircon and titanite Pb/U ages from the SCB to establish the timing and duration of magmatism, metamorphism and deformation. We show that magmatism was surging in the SCB from 90 to 70 Ma, the lower crust was hot, and cooling occurred after 75 Ma. These data contradict plateau underthrusting and flat-slab subduction as the driving mechanism for early Laramide deformation. We propose that the Laramide orogeny is a two-stage event consisting of: 1) an arc ‘flare-up’ phase in the SCB from 90-75 Ma; and 2) a widespread mountain building phase in the Laramide foreland belt from 75-50 Ma that is linked to subduction of an oceanic plateau.

     
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