The southern Coast Mountain batholith was episodically active from Jurassic to Eocene time and experienced four distinct high magmatic flux events during that period. Similar episodicity has been recognized in arcs worldwide, yet the mechanism(s) driving such punctuated magmatic behavior are debated. This study uses zircon Hf and O isotopes, with whole-rock and mineral geochemistry, to track spatiotemporal changes in southern Coast Mountains batholith melt sources and to evaluate models of flare-up behavior and crust formation in Cordilleran arc systems. Zircon Hf isotope analysis yielded consistently primitive values, with all zircon grains recording initial εHf between +6 and +16. The majority (97%) of zircons analyzed yielded δ18O values between 4.2‰ and 6.5‰, and only five grains recorded values of up to 8.3‰. These isotopic results are interpreted to reflect magmatism dominated by mantle melting during all time periods and across all areas of the southern batholith, which argues against the periodic input of more melt-fertile crustal materials as the driver of episodic arc magmatism. They also indicate that limited crustal recycling is needed to produce the large volumes of continental crust generated in the batholith. Although the isotopic character of intrusions is relatively invariant through time, magmas emplaced during flare-ups record higher Sr/Y and La/Yb(N) and lower zircon Ti and Yb concentrations, which is consistent with melting in thickened crust with garnet present as a fractionating phase. Flare-ups are also temporally associated with periods when the southern Coast Mountains batholith both widens and advances inboard. We suggest that the landward shift of the arc into more fertile lithospheric mantle domains triggers voluminous magmatism and is accompanied by magmatic and/or tectonic thickening. Overall, these results demonstrate that the magmatic growth of Cordilleran arcs can be spatially and temporally complex without requiring variability in the contributions of crust and/or mantle to the batholith.

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