Abstract

The eastern Cascades foldbelt is one of three structural domains lying within the complex collision zone between the Insular and Intermontane composite terranes in northern Washington and southern British Columbia. The foldbelt resides between the high-grade metamorphic backbone of the Cascade orogen on the west and rocks of the composite Intermontane terrane to the east. It encompasses the stratigraphically coherent, basalt-floored Jura–Cretaceous Methow basin as well as more chaotically disposed Permian–Jurassic oceanic rocks of the Hozameen terrane. Methow basin rocks are thought to have been sutured above the oceanic rocks prior to the middle Cretaceous contractional episode described in this report.Based on the analysis presented herein, between ca. 100 and 88 Ma the rocks in the foldbelt underwent shortening in an east-northeast – west-southwest direction by 50 km or more, largely by displacement on the east-vergent Jack Mountain – Chuwanten thrust system. The early stages of contraction occurred by the process of tectonic wedging, whereby rocks of the Hozameen terrane and western Methow basin translated eastward by delaminating eastern Methow basin strata along west-vergent thrusts. In later stages of shortening, the tectonic wedge became inactive and was carried piggyback atop the east-vergent Cascade Crest and Chuwanten faults.Presently available geochronologic data indicate overlap in the time periods during which eastern and western Cascades foldbelts were deforming and the Cascade metamorphic core was undergoing amphibolite-facies regional metamorphism. Therefore, contraction of rocks in the eastern foldbelt was an important product of the middle Cretaceous orogeny in the Cascades and must be considered in any regional tectonic model for orogenesis. The eastern foldbelt clearly accommodated substantially less shortening than the western foldbelt and is herein proposed to be a backthrust system in the rear of the predominantly west-vergent Cascade orogen.

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