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Restoration of tectonic elements in the central interior of the Canadian Cordillera southward to their paleogeographic position in the Mesozoic permits comparison of data across the active orogen, recognition of the interplay between coeval lithospheric thickening and basin evolution, and new constraints on models of tectonic evolution. The onset of Middle Jurassic clastic sedimentation in the Bowser basin, on the west side of the Jurassic orogen, occurred in response to accretionary events farther inboard. Shortening and thickening of the crust between the Alberta foreland basin on the east side of the Jurassic orogen and Bowser basin on the west side resulted in an Omineca highland between the two basins and lithospheric loading that influenced their Late Jurassic–Cretaceous sedimentation. The provenance of detritus in these basins, and in the Late Cretaceous Sustut basin on the east side of the Bowser basin, reveals migration of drainage divides in the intervening Omineca highland through time. Synchronous and compatible tectonic events within the basins and evolving accretionary orogen, and in rocks of the Stikine terrane and the western margin of North America, suggest that they were kinematically connected above a lower-crust detachment, beginning in the Middle Jurassic. The Coast belt was part of this wide, dynamically linked bivergent orogen from the mid-Cretaceous to earliest Cenozoic, and the lower-crust detachment rooted near the active plate margin. Nested within the orogen, the east-vergent thin-skinned Skeena fold belt, equivalent in scale to the Rocky Mountain fold-and-thrust belt, was also linked to the detachment system.

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