Abstract

The North American Cordillera is characterized by subduction-related Mesozoic batholiths with voluminous middle Cretaceous plutonism. In the Cordillera, the Idaho batholith is anomalous, containing only a narrow (<10 km) band of middle Cretaceous plutons on its extreme western margin. These plutons are spatially coincident with the Late Cretaceous, crustal-scale, dextral transpressional western Idaho shear zone. Finite strain analysis indicates that there is significant east-west shortening in the western Idaho shear zone. A reconstruction using isotopic variations as strain markers, and comparing them to the undeformed middle Cretaceous Sierra Nevada batholith, results in a middle Cretaceous magmatic arc in western Idaho similar in width (∼85– 100 km) to other sections of the Cordilleran magmatic arc. The tectonic implications include: (1) a full magmatic arc existed in Idaho in the middle Cretaceous prior to Late Cretaceous deformation; (2) the currently sharp 87Sr/86Sr transition in western Idaho represents structural modification of the batholith after emplacement (i.e., the steep isotopic gradient results from deformation); and (3) as a result of Late Cretaceous shortening in the western Idaho shear zone, the main part of the Idaho batholith (i.e., post–ca. 90 Ma) intruded farther eastward into thick North American lithosphere. Consequently, the main part of the Idaho batholith has a stronger continental signature than the other coastal batholiths.

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