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The discovery of multiple deformed and metamorphosed sedimentary successions in southwestern Laurentia that have depositional ages between ca. 1.50 and 1.45 Ga marked a turning point in our understanding of the Mesoproterozoic tectonic evolution of the continent and its interactions with formerly adjacent cratons. Detrital zircon U-Pb ages from metasedimentary strata and igneous U-Pb zircon ages from interbedded metavolcanic rocks in Arizona and New Mexico provide unequivocal evidence for ca. 1.50–1.45 Ga deposition and burial, followed by ca. 1.45 and younger deformation, metamorphism, and plutonism. These events reflect regional shortening and crustal thickening that are most consistent with convergent to collisional orogenesis—the Mesoproterozoic Picuris orogeny—in southwestern Laurentia. Similar metasedimentary successions documented in the midcontinent of the United States and in eastern Canada help to establish ca. 1.45 Ga orogenesis as a continent-scale phenomenon associated with a complex and evolving convergent margin along southern Laurentia. Metasedimentary successions of similar age are also exposed across ~5000 km of the western Laurentian margin and contain distinctive 1.6–1.5 Ga detrital zircon populations that are globally rare except in select cratonic provinces in Australia and Antarctica. The recognition of these distinctive detrital zircon ages provides a transient record of plate interactions prior to breakup of Nuna or Columbia ca. 1.45 Ga and provides key constraints on global plate reconstructions.

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