New SHRIMP-RG (sensitive high-resolution ion microprobe–reverse geometry) data confirm the existence of Archean components within zircon grains of a sample from the orthogneiss of Angel Lake, Nevada, United States, previously interpreted as a nappe of Archean crust. However, the combined evidence strongly suggests that this orthogneiss is a highly deformed, Late Cretaceous monzogranite derived from melting of a sedimentary source dominated by Archean detritus. Zircon grains from the same sample used previously for isotope dilution–thermal ionization mass spectrometry (ID-TIMS) isotopic work were analyzed using the SHRIMP-RG to better define the age and origin of the orthogneiss. Prior to analysis, imaging revealed a morphological variability and intragrain, polyphase nature of the zircon population. The SHRIMP-RG yielded 207Pb/206Pb ages between ca. 2430 and 2580 Ma (a best-fit mean 207Pb/206Pb age of 2531 ± 19 Ma; 95% confidence) from mostly rounded to subrounded zircons and zircon components (cores). In addition, several analyses from rounded to subrounded cores or grains yielded discordant 207Pb/206Pb ages between ca. 1460 and ca. 2170 Ma, consistent with known regional magmatic events.

All cores of Proterozoic to latest Archean age were encased within clear, typically low Th/U (<0.015), oscillatory zoned, mostly euhedral, Late Cretaceous zircon. The younger zircon yielded essentially concordant 206Pb/238U ages between 72 and 91 Ma, consistent with magmatic ages from Lamoille Canyon to the south. An age of ca. 90 Ma is suggested, the younger 206Pb/238U ages resulting from Pb loss. The Cretaceous and Precambrian zircon components also have distinct trace element characteristics, indicating that these age groups are not related to the same igneous source.

These results support recent geophysical interpretations and negate the contention that the Archean-Proterozoic boundary extends into the central Great Basin area. They further suggest that the world-class gold deposits along the Carlin Trend are not underlain by Archean cratonal crust, but rather by the Proterozoic Mojave province and Neoproterozoic and Paleozoic metasedimentary sequences dominated by detritus derived from Late Archean sources rather than Proterozoic sources, as is evident farther to the south in the Ruby Mountains.

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