Abstract

At the latitude of the Thor-Odin dome, the Shuswap metamorphic core complex exposes a ~15 km thick structural section composed of an upper unit that preserved Mesozoic metamorphism, structures, and cooling ages, separated from the underlying high-grade rocks by low-angle detachment zones. Below the detachments, the core of the complex consists of an amphibolite-facies middle unit overlying a migmatitic lower unit exposed in the core of the Thor-Odin dome. Combined structural and super high resolution ion microprobe (SHRIMP) U-Pb geochronology studies indicate that the pervasive shallowly dipping foliation and east-west lineation developed in the presence of melt during Paleocene time. SHRIMP analyses of complexly zoned zircon grains suggest that the migmatites of the lower unit crystallized at ~56 Ma, and a syntectonic leucogranite at ~60 Ma. We suggest that leucogranite migrated upward from the migmatites through an array of dikes and sills that permeated the middle unit and ponded to form laccoliths spatially related to the detachment zones. The similarity in ages of inherited zircon cores in the two migmatite and the leucogranite samples suggests a genetic link consistent with the structural analysis. Following the crystallization of migmatites, the terrane cooled rapidly, as indicated by argon thermochronology. We propose that exhumation of the core of the Canadian Cordillera during the formation of the Shuswap metamorphic core complex occurred from ~60 to 56 Ma at a time when the crust was significantly partially molten. These structural and temporal relationships suggest a genetic link between mechanical weakening of the crust by partial melting, late-orogenic collapse, and exhumation of high-grade rocks in the hinterland of a thermally mature orogenic belt.

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