Recent reconstructions of Cenozoic extension in the southern Great Basin juxtapose the Panamint Range above the Black Mountains and indicate major tectonic denudation of the Black Mountains during Tertiary extension. Structural and geologic characteristics of the Black Mountains and consideration of the regional geology of surrounding ranges suggest that the Black Mountains block may represent a 10 to 30 km preextensional crustal section that has been uplifted along a major detachment zone. Geobarometry and ductile deformation features in a synrift, intermediate to mafic batholith and metamorphism of Eocambrian sedimentary rock on the western side of the range appear to support this hypothesis. These date suggest that the Black Mountains block is one of the youngest and perhaps among the deepest exposed examples of Cordilleran metamorphic core complexes.

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