Abstract

The magnitude of late Mesozoic terrane translation along the western North American continental margin is controversial. Paleomagnetic data suggest more than 3000 km of dextral displacement of the Insular superterrane and associated assemblages between ca. 74 and 50 Ma. Conversely, geologic evidence is more compatible with less than 500 km of offset during this time. Precambrian cratonic rocks older than 2.5 Ga are restricted to northern latitudes (above 40°N) in North America, and the presence or absence of Archean zircons within easterly derived Cretaceous strata has been proposed as a “crucial test” of the major translation hypothesis. There is no plausible source of Archean and Early Proterozoic zircons found in the Queen Charlotte, Nanaimo, and Methow basins other than the Canadian Shield or closely associated Proterozoic strata. The coexistence of Archean–Early Proterozoic, Middle Proterozoic (1.5–1.6 Ga) and Mississippian detrital zircon in these basins indicates deposition in northern latitudes, incompatible with the Baja B.C. hypothesis.

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