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Paleomagnetic constraints on the interpretation of early Cenozoic Pacific Northwest paleogeography

January 1, 1984

Widespread Cenozoic clockwise tectonic rotation in the Pacific Northwest is an established fact; however, the geologic reconstructions based on these rotations are the subject of continuing debate. Three basic mechanisms have been proposed to explain the rotations: (1) simple shear rotation of marginal terranes caught in the dextral shear couple between oceanic plates and North America; (2) rotation during oblique microplate collision and accretion to the continental margin; and (3) rotation of continental margin areas during episodes of intracontinental extension. In areas where detailed structure and stratigraphy are available, distributed shear rotations are amplv demonstrated paleomagnetically. However, rotation due to asymmetric interarc extension must be significant, especially for the Oregon Coast Range, in light of recent estimates of large Tertiary extension across the northern Basin and Range. The relative importance of shear versus extension is difficult to determine, but shear could account for nearly onehalf of the observed rotations. Oblique microplate collision has not contributed significantly to the observed Cenozoic rotations because most of the rotation post-dates collision-related deformation in the Oregon and Washington. Coast Range. The resultant continental reconstructions suggest that about 300 km of extension has occurred at 42°N. latitude (southern Oregon border) since early Eocene time. This reconstruction suggests that Cretaceous sedimentary basins east of the Klamath Mountains have undergone significant Tertiary extension (about f<0%) , but little rotation. Upper Cretaceous sedimentary rocks in the Blue Mountains of Oregon near Mitchell are probably rotated at least 15° and perhaps as much as 60°, which allows considerable latitude in the restoration of that part of the basin.

Publication Year 1984
Title Paleomagnetic constraints on the interpretation of early Cenozoic Pacific Northwest paleogeography
Authors Ray E. Wells
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Pacific Section S.E.P.M.
Index ID 70197498
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Geology, Minerals, Energy, and Geophysics Science Center