A large geochronological data set comprising 40Ar/39Ar and K–Ar (hornblende, muscovite, biotite, and K-feldspar), Rb–Sr (muscovite), fission track (zircon and apatite) and U–Pb (zircon and monazite) dates has been compiled for the southern Kootenay Arc and western Purcell anticlinorium in the Omineca Belt of the Canadian Cordillera in southeastern British Columbia. New 40Ar/39Ar data for hornblende, muscovite, biotite, and alkali feldspar are presented and combined with data from other studies. We integrate these data with recent advances in the geology of the region to define three partially fault-bounded domains with differing geological and exhumation histories, here termed the western, central, and eastern domains. The western domain is characterized by (1) late synkinematic Jurassic plutons with hornblende, muscovite, and biotite 40Ar/39Ar plateau dates between 170 and 165 Ma, some of which are within error of the U–Pb zircon dates for these plutons, and (2) late Early Cretaceous (118–102 Ma) plutons commonly with concordant mica 40Ar/39Ar plateau dates of a similar age range, indicating rapid cooling following emplacement of both suites. The central domain is bounded by regional-scale normal faults (Gallagher and Midge Creek faults, Blazed Creek/Next Creek faults, and Purcell Trench fault) and contains superposed Early and Late Cretaceous zones of Barrovian metamorphic rocks and several mid- to Late Cretaceous, post-kinematic plutons. The transition from the western domain into the central domain is characterized by 40Ar/39Ar mica age spectra showing a progression of increasing thermal overprinting. Along the north–south length of the central domain, biotite and muscovite yield Paleocene to Eocene K–Ar and 40Ar/39Ar plateau dates between 66 and 40 Ma. The eastern domain consists of (1) a southern portion that occurs in the hanging wall of the Purcell Trench fault, comprising mid-Cretaceous intrusions of the Bayonne magmatic suite emplaced into biotite zone metasedimentary rocks of the Mesoproterozoic Belt-Purcell Supergroup in the western Purcell anticlinorium, and (2) a northern portion that shows a continuous transition with the northern part of the central domain north of the terminus of the Purcell Trench fault. Cretaceous igneous rocks in the southern portion of the eastern and western domains have 40Ar/39Ar mica plateau dates that are <9 Myr younger than U–Pb zircon dates, indicating rapid cooling shortly after emplacement. 40Ar/39Ar step-heating reveals that there was a mid- to Late Cretaceous thermal disturbance in the eastern domain, possibly related to emplacement of younger plutons at deeper crustal levels and the Late Cretaceous Barrovian metamorphic event recorded in rocks of the central domain, such that biotite with dates <ca. 73 Ma yield plateau age spectra but those with older dates are disturbed. The new geochronology, combined with recent mapping and metamorphic studies, leads to the conclusion that the exhumation of the Barrovian metamorphic rocks of the central domain was a multi-stage process. The central domain experienced rapid tectonic decompression and minor pluton emplacement in the Late Cretaceous to early Paleocene (76–61 Ma) when the Cordilleran orogen was under regional contraction during which most of the exhumation occurred. Final exhumation in the footwall of Eocene normal faults was less significant and occurred between 53 and ca. 46 Ma when the Cordilleran orogen had transitioned to regional extension, by which time the three domains had attained a similar crustal level. These episodes of exhumation are similar to those found in other core complexes in the southern Canadian Cordillera and contiguous northern Idaho and Washington. The earlier episode is coincident with regional-scale, Late Cretaceous thrust faulting in the Foreland Belt of the Rocky Mountains. Eocene normal faulting and final exhumation of core complexes in the Omineca Belt mark the end of contraction in the Foreland Belt.
Tectonic domains and exhumation history of the Omineca Belt in southeastern British Columbia from 40Ar/39Ar thermochronology
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Ewan R. Webster, Douglas A. Archibald, David R.M. Pattison, Jessica A. Pickett, Joel C. Jansen; Tectonic domains and exhumation history of the Omineca Belt in southeastern British Columbia from 40Ar/39Ar thermochronology. Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences ; 57 (8): 918–946. doi: https://doi.org/10.1139/cjes-2019-0131
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