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Thermal evolution of the Sierra Nevada batholith, California, and implications for strain localization

Nadin, Elisabeth Sophia and Saleeby, Jason and Wong, Martin (2016) Thermal evolution of the Sierra Nevada batholith, California, and implications for strain localization. Geosphere, 12 (2). pp. 377-399. ISSN 1553-040X.

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The Sierra Nevada batholith (California, USA) hosts multiple shear zones of different ages and different styles of deformation. In this study we present new data syntheses and maps of U-Pb zircon and hornblende and biotite Ar age distributions through the batholith in order to examine the temporal and thermal settings under which contractional and transpressional shear zones arose. These maps highlight the localization of intrabatholithic shear zones at the boundaries between swaths of some of the oldest and youngest plutons, and help to distinguish deformation styles in the southern and central Sierran arc. We also present new ^(40)Ar/^(39)Ar ages and crystallization and deformation temperatures from along the Kern Canyon fault system in the southern part of the batholith, and contrast these new constraints with previously published thermochronological conditions for shear zones to the north. The transpressional proto–Kern Canyon fault was continuously active from ca. 95 to 85 Ma. Deformation temperatures along the fault increase by ∼100 °C from north to south, following the trend of increasing pluton emplacement pressures. These observations, in conjunction with a steep cooling path for the southeastern section of the batholith east of the proto–Kern Canyon fault, support previous interpretations that rapid exhumation in the southernmost part of the batholith followed the arrival and low-angle subduction of an oceanic plateau (the Shatsky Rise conjugate). We suggest that local forces such as these triggered mid-Cretaceous shear zone development in the southern Sierra Nevada batholith, while shear zones in the central part of the batholith, which record the transition from 100–90 Ma compression to 90–80 Ma transpression, were triggered by changing kinematic patterns in regional subduction forcing. This idea is supported by our thermochronologic color contour maps, which reveal an east-west–trending older (and colder) swath within the batholith that may have prevented the more northern shear zones from propagating southward. We contrast the cooling paths of regions within the southernmost part of the batholith, and propose a two-part deformation history in which (1) the 95–85 Ma ductile proto–Kern Canyon fault initiated in the southeast as a compressional structure that transitioned to transpressional, and (2) the 85–75(?) Ma ductile to brittle Kern Canyon–White Wolf fault initiated in the southwest, accommodated extrusion of shallowly subducted accretionary material and thinning of the overlying batholith, and then overprinted the proto–Kern Canyon fault along its northern end. Shear zone activity within the central Sierra Nevada batholith can thus be distinguished by location: in the central zone deformation arose from regional forces, and in the southern zone deformation was triggered by local forces.

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Additional Information:© 2016 Geological Society of America. Received 15 July 2015; Revision received 15 October 2015; Accepted 14 December 2015; First published online February 5, 2016. We thank the many people who have provided assistance through the data collection required for this work. Greg Hirth motivated the study of deformation temperatures along a ductile shear zone. Nobu Shimizu graciously provided assistance in using the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution ion probe, and in deciphering results. Bill Collins and Joe Devine at Brown University were instrumental in helping to make thin sections and run the electron microprobe, and Ken Severin and Karen Spaleta at University of Alaska Fairbanks enthusiastically figured out how to make TitaniQ work on the AIL probe. Artur Benisek volunteered to determine two-feldspar temperatures from our analyses. Conversations on Sierra Nevada shear zones with many people, notably Basil Tikoff, have helped to steer our thinking. Maria Seton provided the data for the Farallon–North America reconstruction. We thank Phil Gans for ^(40)Ar/^(39)Ar analyses on samples from the Lake Isabella region. Comments by Alan Chapman and an anonymous reviewer improved the clarity of this manuscript. We especially thank Cathy Busby, Associate Editor of this special issue, who took interest in the subject, put up with continued production delays, and contributed greatly to the improvement of this paper.
Issue or Number:2
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20160323-111050850
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Official Citation:Elisabeth S. Nadin, Jason Saleeby, and Martin Wong Thermal evolution of the Sierra Nevada batholith, California, and implications for strain localization Geosphere, April 2016, v. 12, p. 377-399, First published on February 5, 2016, doi:10.1130/GES01224.1
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:65623
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:30 Mar 2016 23:32
Last Modified:03 Oct 2019 09:49

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