Abstract

The presence of ca. 1.63 Ga monzogranite (the “white quartz monzonite”) in the southern Sierra Madre, southeastern Wyoming, is anomalous given its distance from the nearest documented plutons of similar age (central Colorado) and the nearest contemporaneous tectonic margin (New Mexico). It is located immediately south of the Cheyenne belt—a ca. 1.75 Ga Archean-Proterozoic tectonic suture. New geochronological, isotopic, and geochemical data suggest that emplacement of the white quartz monzonite occurred between ca. 1645 and 1628 Ma (main pulse ca. 1628 Ma) and that the white quartz monzonite originated primarily by partial melting of the Big Creek Gneiss, a modified arc complex. There is no evidence that mafic magmas were involved. Open folds of the ca. 1750 Ma regional foliation are cut by undeformed white quartz monzonite. On a regional scale, rocks intruded by the white quartz monzonite have experienced higher pressure and temperature conditions and are migmatitic as compared to the surrounding rocks, suggesting a genetic relationship between the white quartz monzonite and tectonic exhumation. We propose that regional shortening imbricated the Big Creek Gneiss, uplifting the now-exposed high-grade rocks of the Big Creek Gneiss (hanging wall of the thrust and wall rock to the white quartz monzonite) and burying correlative rocks, which partially melted to form the white quartz monzonite. This tectonism is attributed to the ca. 1.65 Ga Mazatzal orogeny, as foreland shortening spread progressively into the Yavapai Province. Mazatzal foreland effects have also been described in the Great Lakes region and have been inferred in the Black Hills of South Dakota. We suggest that the crustal-scale rheologic contrast across the Archean-Proterozoic suture, originally developed along the southern margin of Laurentia, and including the Cheyenne belt, facilitated widespread reactivation of that boundary during the Mazatzal orogeny. This finding emphasizes the degree to which crustal heterogeneities can localize subsequent deformation in accretionary orogens, producing significant crustal melting in the distal foreland—a region not typically associated with orogenic magmatism.

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