Abstract

The mid-Paleozoic volcanics of northern Sierra Nevada consist of the Sierra Buttes rhyolites, the Taylor basalts and andesites, and the Keddie Ridge basalt–latite–rhyolite suite. The Sierra Buttes calc-alkaline rhyolites display strong light rare-earth element enrichment and negative εNd values. The Taylor basalts and andesites in the northern Hough and Genesee blocks exhibit calc-alkaline affinities (REE rare-earth element patterns highly enriched in LREE), whereas in the southern Hough block they are tholeiitic (flat rare-earth element patterns). The abundance of silicic lavas, the low εNd values of both the Sierra Buttes and Taylor volcanics and the δ18O values of the Sierra Buttes rhyolite and Bowman Lake trondjhemite provide evidence that the northern Sierra Nevada island arc was continent based. The Keddie Ridge differentiated volcanics, characterized by high Zr, Y, Nb, K, and light rare-earth elements, are geochemically similar to a shoshonite suite. Their eruption at the end of the mid-Paleozoic volcanic episode suggests a reversal of subduction, uplift, and block faulting in the island arc.The mid-Paleozoic volcanics of the northern Sierra Nevada are thought to represent the remnant of a mature island arc because calc-alkaline rocks predominate over tholeiitic ones, the lavas display a K enrichment with time, and the volcanics are evolved in their isotopes, compared with rocks erupted in young or primitive island arcs.

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