New metamorphic pressure-temperature (P-T) paths and Lu-Hf garnet ages reveal a temporal correlation between Middle to Late Jurassic retroarc underthrusting and arc magmatism in southwestern North America. P-T paths were determined for 12 garnet porphyroblasts from six samples from the Chloride Cliff area of the Funeral Mountains in southeastern California. The composite path shows a pressure increase from 4.2 to 6.5 kbar as temperature increased from 550 to 575 °C, followed by a pressure decrease to 5.1 kbar during a further increase in temperature to 590 °C. Lu-Hf garnet ages from a pelitic schist (167.3 ± 0.7 Ma) and a garnet amphibolite (165.1 ± 9.2 Ma) place these P-T paths in the Middle Jurassic. We interpret the near-isothermal pressure increase portion of the P-T path to have developed during thrust-related burial, similar to lower grade rocks at Indian Pass, 8 km to the southeast, where garnet P-T paths show a pressure increase dated by the Lu-Hf method at 158.2 ± 2.6 Ma. We interpret the pressure decrease portion of the composite P-T path from the Chloride Cliff area to reflect exhumation contemporaneous with cooling in the Indian Pass area documented from muscovite 40Ar/39Ar step-heating ages of 152.6 ± 1.4 and 146 ± 1.1 Ma.
The conditions and timing of metamorphism determined for the Indian Pass and Chloride Cliff areas, and isogradic surfaces that cut across stratigraphy, support the interpretation that the strata were dipping moderately NW during metamorphism, parallel to the thrust ramp that buried the rocks. Burial likely resulted from top-SE motion along the Funeral thrust, which was later reactivated as a low-angle normal fault with opposite motion to become the currently exposed Boundary Canyon detachment that was responsible for Miocene and possibly older exhumation.
The part of the burial history captured by garnet growth occurred ∼6 m.y. before the 161 Ma peak of high-flux magmatism in the arc. Burial was contemporaneous with metamorphic ages from the western Sierra Nevada metamorphic belt, with the possible timing of accretion of arc terranes in northern California, and with the initiation of Franciscan subduction. Burial ages are also similar in timing with generally E-W crustal shortening in the retroarc that produced the East Sierra thrust system, the Luning-Fencemaker fold and thrust belt, the possible early history of the Central Nevada thrust belt, and the western thrusts of the southern Sevier belt. The timing of tectonic burial documented in this study and of high-flux magmatism in the arc supports the interpretation that the development of a coherent arc-trench system in the Early Jurassic resulted in the underthrusting of melt-fertile material beneath the arc along west- to northwest-dipping faults such as the Funeral thrust in the Jurassic, which penetrated the basement to the west as well as the roots of the magmatic arc, leading to increased magmatism.