Abstract

The northern Sierra Nevada and adjacent Basin and Range, western United States, are marked by a widespread regional unconformity at the base of the Eocene-Miocene volcanic and sedimentary section that overlies the Mesozoic batholith and its wall rocks. To help address controversial questions about the origin, uplift, and erosion of the batholith, we compiled a subcrop geologic map of the unconformity prior to Tertiary extension. This simple but under-utilized technique reveals the distribution of rock units that could have contributed detritus to the Eocene-Miocene river channels crossing the Sierra Nevada and demonstrates that the Mesozoic Sierra Nevada batholith was continuous to the northeast across the northwestern Basin and Range. More speculatively, the subcrop map implies that Late Cretaceous–Eocene erosional stripping may have been greatest above the axis of the batholith and decreased to the east; thus, drainage in this area may have been eastward and then switched westward in Eocene-Miocene time.

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