Published:July 01, 2008
Although plate reconstructions suggest that subduction was an approximately steady-state process from the mid-Mesozoic through the early Tertiary, recent precise geochronologic studies suggest highly episodic emplacement of voluminous continental-margin batholiths in the U.S. Cordillera. In central and southern California and western Arizona, major episodes of batholithic magmatism are known to have occurred in Permian-Triassic, Middle Jurassic, and late Early to Late Cretaceous time. However, recent studies of forearc-basin and continental-interior sediments suggest that Late Jurassic time was probably also a period of significant magmatism, although few dated plutons of this age have been recognized. We describe a belt of Late Jurassic plutonic and hypabyssal rocks at least 200 km in length that extends from the northwestern Mojave Desert through the Transverse Ranges. The belt lies outboard of both the voluminous Middle Jurassic arc and the ca. 148 Ma Independence dike swarm at these latitudes. The plutons include two intrusive suites emplaced between 157 and 149 Ma: a calc-alkaline suite compositionally unlike Permian-Triassic and Middle Jurassic monzonitic suites but similar to Late Cretaceous arc plutons emplaced across this region, and a contemporaneous but not comagmatic alkaline suite. The Late Jurassic was thus a time of both tectonic and magmatic transitions in the southern Cordillera.