Abstract

Upper Cretaceous sandstones from 17 localities from California to southeastern Alaska (United States) contain unexpectedly large populations of detrital zircons with Proterozoic U-Pb ages, with age peaks at 1800–1650 and 1380 Ma. These peaks are indicative of a sediment source region in the southern part of the Proterozoic Belt Supergoup basin in central Idaho, which hosts 1800–1650 Ma detrital zircons and which was intruded by rift-related 1380 Ma bimodal plutons and sills. Belt rocks were strongly uplifted and eroded during Late Cretaceous Sevier shortening and fed four paleoriver systems. The Lemhi Pass–Hawley Creek river system flowed east and sourced the Beaverhead-Harebell-Pinyon nonmarine megafan in the Cordilleran foreland basin. The Kione River flowed southwest to northern California, where it sourced a very large, ca. 82–80 Ma, ∼600-m-thick delta and submarine fan complex within the northern Great Valley forearc basin. Considerable Kione detritus also transited the forearc basin to reach the Franciscan trench, sourcing a pulse of deposition and subduction accretion in central California and even part of southern California. The Swakane River flowed northwest out of Idaho into Washington, sourcing the protolith for the high-grade Swakane gneiss. More speculatively, a Yakutat River may have flowed northwest and deposited Yakutat strata in a trench off Washington or British Columbia, before those rocks were translated north to southeastern Alaska. Recognition of a major source area in central Idaho for zircons with an uncommon age of 1380 Ma helps constrain the ca. 85–65 Ma paleogeography and paleotectonics of major sectors of the North American convergent margin orogen.

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