Abstract

Potassium-argon ages have been determined on 25 biotite and hornblende samples (four coexisting biotite-hornblende pairs were dated) from a number of granitic formations in the more than 500 sq mi of dominantly granitic outcrop in the White Mountains. These new data, together with earlier published radiometric ages, indicate a group of plutons about 70 to 85 m.y. old, a single body about 210 m.y. old, another that may be about 225 m.y. old, and several between 130 and 185 m.y. old. Evidence of intrusion is lacking in the intervals of about 90 to 130 m.y. and 185 to 200 m.y. The oldest age, about 226 m.y., may represent the chance preservation of a “primary” hornblende in a body in which the dark minerals are largely recrystallized and their radiometric ages reset. This age suggests that Triassic magmatism may be more widespread along the eastern margin of the Sierra Nevada batholith than had previously been considered.

The radiometric age data from the White Mountains, together with similar data from northwestern and north-central Nevada and abundant data from the central Sierra Nevada, suggest essentially continuous, albeit irregular, magmatic activity from Triassic to the end of Cretaceous, except for periods of little or no activity in earliest Jurassic and earliest Cretaceous. Episodes of magmatic activity may, and probably do, characterize specific areas, but when sufficiently large blocks of the Sierra Nevada batholith are considered, the sum of the episodes approaches a continuum.

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