Abstract

New U–Pb zircon geochronology from the Riggins region of west-central Idaho refines the timing of contractional deformation across the Salmon River suture zone (SRSZ), a broad north- to northeast-striking belt (>25 km wide) of high strain recording Jura-Cretaceous island-arc–continent collision. Laser ablation – inductively coupled plasma – mass spectrometry (LA–ICP–MS) yields mid-Cretaceous crystallization ages on formerly undated plutonic rocks sampled from the Salmon River canyon. In the Crevice pluton (∼105 Ma), the development of steep to moderate northerly striking gneissic foliation (S1) was followed by tops-to-the-west slip on shallow mylonitic shear zones (S2) and brittle overprinting via systematic joints (Jn) of regional extent. Together, these structures form the pluton’s internal architecture. Subvertical gneissic foliation in the adjacent Looking Glass pluton (∼92 Ma) indicates ductile deformation was ongoing in the Late Cretaceous. Prior to this investigation, penetrative fabrics in local arc volcanogenic, plutonic, and continental rocks have been unequivocally linked to post-collisional dextral transpression on the narrow (<10 km wide) western Idaho shear zone (WISZ). As an alternative to this model which requires spatially overlapping but temporally distinct orogenic belts (WISZ–SRSZ), we consider a protracted history whereby regional synmetamorphic structures accumulated over a pre-118 Ma to post-92 Ma interval without an overprinting orogen-scale ductile shear zone. In our view, a progressive deformation history more accurately accounts for the time-transgressive nature and structural continuity of fabrics observed across the arc–continent transition. This tectonic history proposed for western Idaho may be analogous to other long-lived accretionary margins in the North American Cordillera (e.g., Omineca Belt of southeastern British Columbia).

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