Did Westward Subduction Cause Cretaceous-Tertiary Orogeny in by Robert S. Hildebrand

By Robert S. Hildebrand

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Extra info for Did Westward Subduction Cause Cretaceous-Tertiary Orogeny in the North American Cordillera? (Special Paper (Geological Society of America))

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Overall, the belt is more or less one giant core complex some 1500 km long by only 75–100 km wide, so it is here attributed to uplift generated by slab failure. Within the Great Basin, Paleocene-Eocene core complexes are not known west of the hinterland belt, but whether that area was simply cooler, did not have the same initial uplift, or relates to major longitudinal movement with Rubia is unknown. Nevertheless, the differences are likely significant. Based on the areas with and without metamorphic core complexes I theorize that a combination of the intense heat, either from within an active arc or from below during slab break-off, a thick crust basically doubled by overthrusting, and rapid uplift caused by slab breakoff, were the critical components for creating the metamorphic core complexes of the hinterland belt.

1988), there is likely a structural break between the two. The overall map geometry and the abrupt changes in structural style and rock type suggest that the two areas are separated by a major fault and that a part of the North American craton was sliced off and transported elsewhere (Fig. 5). Crosscutting relationships indicate that at least some separation on the fault must be synchronous or postdate the Sevier thrusts. I term the rocks lying to the southwest of the fault the Sonoran segment, and I suggest that they were juxtaposed against, and/or migrated along, the truncated margin.

Consider that prior to slab failure, rocks of the North American margin were scraped off their basement along a basal detachment, separated from North America, and transferred to the front of the overriding plate. These rocks were then transported eastward in a compressional environment because new material was constantly being added to the front of the thrust wedge (Cloos and Shreve, 1988a, 1988b). Down below, the North American plate was actively being pulled down by the descending oceanic slab (Spence, 1987; Royden, 1993a, 1993b; Conrad and Lithgow-Bertelloni, 2002) and so was extended.

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