Abstract

An extensive but generally thin mantle of basalt flows, the Chilcotin Group, covers much of the Interior Plateau of south-central British Columbia. It provides material for dating and for reconstructing the original form of the paleosurface on which it was deposited. K–Ar whole-rock dates demonstrate that several ages of basalt are represented, from Early Miocene (or even Late Oligocene?) to Early Pleistocene, with particularly abundant eruptions about 14–16, 9–6, and 1–3 Ma ago.Basalts of Middle Miocene and later ages, if not the Early Miocene relics as well, clearly rest on land surfaces of low local relief. In places the low-relief surfaces had been incised to depths of 100–200 m and the valleys backfilled with mid-or late Cenozoic sediments prior to burial by the basalts. The low-relief surfaces throughout the area are believed to have been developed close to a common base level, and regional differences in their present elevation are thus largely a product of post-basalt deformation. This is recorded by Miocene or later uplift of the southern Coast Mountains and gentle flexing in parts of the Interior Plateau.Major stream incision to depths of up to 1000 m following uplift provides a convenient, but not infallible, means of distinguishing Chilcotin basalts from mid-Pleistocene and younger "valley basalts."The Chilcotin Group is, for the most part, a small-scale counterpart of the roughly contemporaneous Columbia River basalt group of Washington and Oregon.

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