Oligocene and early Miocene displacement on the Catalina–San Pedro detachment fault and its northern correlatives uncovered mylonitic fabrics that form the greater Catalina metamorphic core complex in southeastern Arizona, USA. Gently to moderately dipping mylonitic foliations in the complex are strongly lineated, with a lineation-azimuth average of 064–244° and dominantly top-southwest shear sense over the entire 115-km-long mylonite belt. Reconstruction of detachment fault displacement based on a variety of features indicates 40–60 km of displacement, with greater displacement in more southern areas. Widespread 26–28 Ma volcanism during early extensional basin genesis was followed by 24–26 Ma granitoid magmatism. Cooling of footwall mylonites continued until 22–24 Ma, as indicated by 40Ar/39Ar mica dates. Lower temperature thermochronometers suggest that footwall exhumation was still underway at ca. 20 Ma. Tectonic reconstruction places a variety of unmetamorphosed supracrustal units in the Tucson and Silver Bell Mountains above equivalent units that were metamorphosed and penetratively deformed in the Tortolita and Santa Catalina Mountains. This restored juxtaposition is interpreted as a consequence of older Laramide thrust burial of the deformed units, with northeast-directed thrusting occurring along the Wildhorse Mountain thrust in the Rincon Mountains and related but largely concealed thrusts to the northwest. Effective extensional exhumation of lower plate rocks resulted from a general lack of internal extension of the upper plate wedge. This is attributed to a stable sliding regime during the entire period of extension, with metamorphic core complex inflation by deep crustal flow leading to maintenance of wedge surface slope and detachment fault dip that favored stable sliding rather than internal wedge extension.

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