Abstract

Previously published and new U-Pb geochronologic analyses provide 313 zircon and 59 titanite ages that constrain the igneous and cooling history of the Coast Mountains batholith in north-coastal British Columbia. First-order findings are as follows:

  • (1) This segment of the batholith consists of three portions: a western magmatic belt (emplaced into the outboard Alexander and Wrangellia terranes) that was active 177–162 Ma, 157–142 Ma, and 118–100 Ma; an eastern belt (emplaced into the inboard Stikine and Yukon-Tanana terranes) that was active ca. 180–110 Ma; and a 100–50 Ma belt that was emplaced across much of the orogen during and following mid-Cretaceous juxtaposition of outboard and inboard terranes.

  • (2) Magmatism migrated eastward from 120 to 80 (or 60) Ma at a rate of 2.0–2.7 km/Ma, a rate similar to that recorded by the Sierra Nevada batholith.

  • (3) Magmatic flux was quite variable through time, with high (>35–50 km3/Ma per km strike length) flux at 160–140 Ma, 120–78 Ma, and 55–48 Ma, and magmatic lulls at 140–120 Ma and 78–55 Ma.

  • (4) High U/Th values record widespread growth (and/or recrystallization) of metamorphic zircon at 88–76 Ma and 62–52 Ma.

  • (5) U-Pb ages of titanite record rapid cooling of axial portions of the batholith at ca. 55–48 Ma in response to east-side-down motion on regional extensional structures.

  • (6) The magmatic history of this portion of the Coast Mountains batholith is consistent with a tectonic model involving formation of a Late Jurassic–earliest Cretaceous magmatic arc along the northern Cordilleran margin; duplication of this arc system in Early Cretaceous time by >800 km (perhaps 1000–1200 km) of sinistral motion (bringing the northern portion outboard of the southern portion); high-flux magmatism prior to and during orthogonal mid-Cretaceous terrane accretion; low-flux magmatism during Late Cretaceous–Paleocene dextral transpressional motion; and high-flux Eocene magmatism during rapid exhumation in a regime of regional crustal extension.

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