Abstract

The Clearwater orogenic zone in central Idaho and western Montana contains at least two major northeast-directed Cordilleran thrust plates of Early Proterozoic metasedimentary and metaigneous rocks that overrode previously folded Middle Proterozoic rocks of the Belt basin in Cretaceous time. The northeastward migration of the resultant thickened wedge of crustal material combined with Cretaceous subduction along the western continental margin produced a younger northern Bitterroot lobe of the Idaho batholith relative to an older southern Atlanta lobe. Eocene extensional unroofing and erosion of the Bitterroot lobe has exposed the roots of the thick Cordilleran thrust sheets.

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