Abstract

Upper Cretaceous coarse clastic rocks exposed in the canyon of Churn Creek, south-central British Columbia, record active basin tectonism and coeval volcanism adjacent to the boundary between the Intermontane and Insular superterranes. Mid to late Albian (∼104 Ma U–Pb), calc-alkaline andesite and basaltic andesite flows, with minor conglomerate and reworked epiclastic deposits and tuffs correlative with the Spences Bridge Group of the Intermontane superterrane are exposed in the canyon. In depositional contact above the volcanic rocks is the conglomerate of Churn Creek, which contains a thick (>1 km) sequence of complexly intertonguing conglomerate and sandstone that is divided into two members composed of four lithofacies. The lower member was deposited unconformably on the underlying Albian volcanic unit and contains late Albian–Cenomanian chert-pebble (>50% chert) conglomerate and interbedded chert- and volcanic-lithic sandstone. It is interpreted to have been deposited in a braided stream system flowing from southeast to northwest. The source for the chert was most likely the Bridge River terrane, a Mississippian to Jurassic ocean floor assemblage located to the southwest of Churn Creek, south of the Yalakom fault. Gradationally overlying the lower member throughout much of the basin is a mixed chert, plutonic, and volcaniclastic lithofacies of the upper member. Plutonic debris was provided to the mixed and plutonic lithofacies of the upper member by the Little Basin pluton, which was uplifted along the northeast-directed Little Basin thrust fault on the southwest margin of the basin. The upper member also contains a volcanic-rich lithofacies composed of chaotic volcanic conglomerate and local lithic tuff derived from a coeval proximal volcanic source. The conglomerate of Churn Creek records active northeast-vergent compressional tectonism and development of piggyback basins along the boundary between the Insular and Intermontane superterranes during Albian–Santonian time. The conglomerate of Churn Creek has been correlated to the Silverquick – Powell Creek succession of the Methow terrane, based on age, stratigraphic, lithologic, structural, geochemical, and paleomagnetic similarities, and may, therefore, represent an overlap assemblage linking the superterranes in the Late Cretaceous.

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