Differing interpretations of geophysical and geologic data have led to debate regarding continent-scale plate configuration, subduction polarity, and timing of collisional events on the western North American plate margin in pre–mid-Cretaceous time. One set of models involves collision and accretion of far-traveled “exotic” terranes against the continental margin along a west-dipping subduction zone, whereas a second set of models involves long-lived, east-dipping subduction under the continental margin and a fringing or “endemic” origin for many Mesozoic terranes on the western North American plate margin. Here, we present new detrital zircon U-Pb ages from clastic rocks of the Rattlesnake Creek and Western Klamath terranes in the Klamath Mountains of northern California and southern Oregon that provide a test of these contrasting models. Our data show that portions of the Rattlesnake Creek terrane cover sequence (Salt Creek assemblage) are no older than ca. 170–161 Ma (Middle–early Late Jurassic) and contain 62–83% Precambrian detrital zircon grains. Turbidite sandstone samples of the Galice Formation are no older than ca. 158–153 Ma (middle Late Jurassic) and contain 15–55% Precambrian detrital zircon grains. Based on a comparison of our data to published magmatic and detrital ages representing provenance scenarios predicted by the exotic and endemic models (a crucial geologic test), we show that our samples were likely sourced from the previously accreted, older terranes of the Klamath Mountains and Sierra Nevada, as well as active-arc sources, with some degree of contribution from recycled sources in the continental interior. Our observations are inconsistent with paleogeographic reconstructions that are based on exotic, intra-oceanic arcs formed far offshore of North America. In contrast, the incorporation of recycled detritus from older terranes of the Klamath Mountains and Sierra Nevada, as well as North America, into the Rattlesnake Creek and Western Klamath terranes prior to Late Jurassic deformation adds substantial support to endemic models. Our results suggest that during long-lived, east-dipping subduction, the opening and subsequent closing of the marginal Galice/Josephine basin occurred as a result of in situ extension and subsequent contraction. Our results show that tectonic models invoking exotic, intra-oceanic archipelagos composed of Cordilleran arc terranes fail a crucial geologic test of the terranes’ proposed exotic origin and support the occurrence of east-dipping, pre–mid-Cretaceous subduction beneath the North American continental margin.

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