The Upper Cretaceous Fort Crittenden Formation exposed in the Santa Rita and Huachuca Mountains of southeastern Arizona is a syntectonic deposit that has been associated with Laramide tectonic activity. However, the spatio-temporal relationships among Cretaceous sedimentation, magmatism, basement exhumation, and possible flat slab-related processes in the southern Laramide region remain poorly understood. Age controls for uplift and erosion of local topography and syntectonic deposition in response to deformation remain particularly poor. The Fort Crittenden Formation comprises 800−2500 m of locally derived fluvial to alluvial fan sedimentary rocks and records paleodrainage reorganization in response to active tectonics. Changes in sedimentary facies, provenance, and paleoflow suggest deposition in a tectonically partitioned intraforeland basin. New detrital zircon data constrain the timing of deposition of the Fort Crittenden Formation between ca. 86 Ma and ca. 76 Ma. The lack of depositional age zircons throughout the majority of the Fort Crittenden Formation is consistent with a magmatic lull in the Cordilleran arc between ca. 90 Ma and ca. 76 Ma. The overlying Salero Formation and Late Cretaceous intrusions are expressions of renewed magmatism in southeastern Arizona at ca. 75 Ma. New Lu-Hf data indicate that magmas evolved from contamination of old juvenile crust. When interpreted in conjunction with other regional data sets, our study indicates that the Laramide deformation front migrated eastward into southwestern New Mexico by 75 Ma. Thermal modeling of apatite fission track and (U-Th)/He data from granitic clasts are consistent with Late Cretaceous−Paleocene (ca. 76−55 Ma) heating related to magmatism and cooling and exhumation during the Eocene and Oligocene.
Age and deposition of the Fort Crittenden Formation: A window into Late Cretaceous Laramide and Cenozoic tectonics in southeastern Arizona
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Emilia A. Caylor, Barbara Carrapa, Kurt Sundell, Peter G. DeCelles, Joshua M. Smith; Age and deposition of the Fort Crittenden Formation: A window into Late Cretaceous Laramide and Cenozoic tectonics in southeastern Arizona. GSA Bulletin 2021; doi: https://doi.org/10.1130/B35808.1
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