Fragments of Jurassic ophiolite having U-Pb zircon ages narrowly grouped at 160 to 170 m.y. are widespread over parts of northwest Washington. The Haystack thrust fault is inferred to mark the base of the ophiolite in the San Juan Islands and adjacent Cascade foothills; other bodies of mafic and ultramafic rock in the western Cascades may be klippen of the Haystack thrust plate. The Haystack thrust fault is probably the structurally highest and possibly most extensive thrust yet recognized within a family of Late Cretaceous thrust faults in northwest Washington.
The ophiolite and its time of emplacement (bracketed between about 100 and 88 m.y.) suggest a similarity with the Coast Range thrust of California which thrust Upper Jurassic ophiolite and the Great Valley sedimentary sequence over the Franciscan assemblage. However, relations in the Cascades are complicated by the extraordinarily diverse character of lower plate rocks, of which very few resemble the Franciscan. We conclude that an original subduction system was modified by later tectonic activity so that a variety of terranes was juxtaposed as a family of rootless thrusts, with the ophiolite forming, at least in some areas, the uppermost structural unit. Perhaps the emplacement of Wrangellia, an allochthonous microcontinent west of the San Juan Islands, caused the thrusting.