Abstract

The Omineca Crystalline Belt and Coast Plutonic Complex are the two major regional tectonic welts in the Canadian Cordillera in which were concentrated intense deformation, regional metamorphism, granitic magmatism, uplift, and erosion. The welts, which formerly were thought to result from subduction of Pacific Ocean lithosphere beneath the western edge of North America, can now be viewed partly as the result of tectonic overlap and/or compressional thickening of crustal rocks during collisions between North America and two large, composite, allochthonous terranes that were accreted to its ancient western margin. The inner composite terrane, Terrane I, includes four smaller terranes that apparently were together by the end of Triassic time. The outer composite terrane, Terrane II, comprises two terranes, amalgamated by Late Jurassic time. The Omineca Crystalline Belt formed mainly from mid-Jurassic time onward, during and following the collision of Terrane I with North America. This belt straddles the zone of overlap of autochthonous and allochthonous terranes, and its characteristic metamorphism and structure are superimposed on both. The Coast Plutonic Complex formed mainly in Cretaceous to early Tertiary time during and following the attachment of Terrane II to the new, Jurassic, continental margin. It lies along the boundary of Terrane I and Terrane II and involves elements of both terranes. The collisions took place within the overall setting of the North American plate moving relatively westward into various Pacific plates from Jurassic time onward and in conjunction with subduction of Pacific Ocean lithosphere.

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