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  1. 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. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available May 15, 2025
  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. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available May 15, 2025
  3. Free, publicly-accessible full text available September 1, 2024
  4. 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 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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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available July 1, 2024
  5. Structural analyses combined with new U-Pb zircon and titanite geochronology show how two Early Cretaceous transpressional shear zones initiated and grew through a nearly complete section of continental arc crust during oblique convergence. Both shear zones reactivated Carboniferous faults that penetrated the upper mantle below Zealandia's Median Batholith but show opposite growth patterns and dissimilar relationships with respect to arc magmatism. The Grebe-Indecision Creek shear zone was magma-starved and first reactivated at ∼136 Ma as an oblique-reverse fault, along which an outboard batholith partially subducted beneath Gondwana. This system nucleated at or above ∼20 km depth and propagated downward at 2–3 mm yr−1, accumulating at least 35–45 km of horizontal (arc-normal) shortening by ∼124 Ma. In contrast, the magma-rich George Sound shear zone first reactivated in the lower crust (∼55 km depth) at ∼124 Ma and grew upward at ∼3 mm yr−1, reaching the upper crust by ∼110 Ma. In this latter system, magmatism influenced shear zone architecture and drove its growth while subduction and oblique convergence ended. As magma entered the roots of the system and began to solidify, deformation was driven out of the lower crust and into the middle crust where the system widened by a factor of three when fold-thrust belts formed on either side of a steep, central transpressional shear zone. This study illustrates how the reactivation of structural weaknesses localizes deformation at all depths in the lithosphere and shows how magma-deformation feedbacks influence shear zone connectivity and built a batholith from the bottom up. 
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  6. Abstract We present a data set of >1500 in situ O-Hf-U-Pb zircon isotope analyses that document the existence of a concealed Rodinian lithospheric keel beneath continental Zealandia. The new data reveal the presence of a distinct isotopic domain of Paleozoic–Mesozoic plutonic rocks that contain zircon characterized by anomalously low δ18O values (median = +4.1‰) and radiogenic εHf(t) (median = +6.1). The scale (>10,000 km2) and time span (>>250 m.y.) over which plutonic rocks with this anomalously low-δ18O signature were emplaced appear unique in a global context, especially for magmas generated and emplaced along a continental margin. Calculated crustal-residence ages (depleted mantle model, TDM) for this low-δ18O isotope domain range from 1300 to 500 Ma and are interpreted to represent melting of a Precambrian lithospheric keel that was formed and subsequently hydrothermally altered during Rodinian assembly and rifting. Recognition of a concealed Precambrian lithosphere beneath Zealandia and the uniqueness of the pervasive low-δ18O isotope domain link Zealandia to South China, providing a novel test of specific hypotheses of continental block arrangements within Rodinia. 
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