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Timing and nature of tertiary plutonism and extension in the Grouse Creek Mountains, Utah

January 1, 2003

The Grouse Creek-Albion-Raft River metamorphic core complex in northwestern Utah and southern Idaho is characterized by several Tertiary plutons with a range of ages and crosscutting relations that help constrain the timing of extensional deformation. In the Grouse Creek Mountains, at least three distinct, superimposed, extension-related Tertiary deformational events are bracketed by intrusive rocks, followed by a fourth event: motion on range-bounding faults. The Emigrant Pass plutonic complex was emplaced at depths of less than 10 km into Permianage rocks. SHRIMP U-Pb zircon analysis indicates a three-stage intrusion of the complex at 41.3 ± 0.3 Ma, 36.1 ± 0.2 Ma, and 34.3 ± 0.3 Ma. The two youngest phases represent distinctly younger intrusive event(s) than the oldest phase, separated by more than 5 m.y. The oldest phase cuts several metamorphosed and deformed younger-on-older faults, providing a pre-41 Ma age bracket for oldest extension-related deformation in the region. The youngest phase(s) are interpreted to have been intruded during development of a map-scale, N-S-trending recumbent fold, the Bovine Mountain fold, formed during vertical shortening of roof rocks during intrusion. This second event folded older normal faults that are likely pre-41 Ma. Zircons from the youngest part of the pluton show inheritance from Archean basement (~2.5 Ga) and from its Proterozoic sedimentary cover (~1.65 Ga). The Red Butte pluton, emplaced at 15-20 km depth, intruded highly metamorphosed Archean orthogneiss at 25.3 ± 0.5 Ma; cores of some zircons yield latest Archean ages of 2.55 Ga. The pluton is interpreted to have been intruded during a third deformational and metamorphic event that resulted in vertical flattening fabrics formed during NW to EW stretching, ultimately leading to thinning of cover and top-to-the west motion on the Ingham Pass fault. The Ingham Pass fault represents an important structure in the Grouse Creek Mountains, as it juxtaposes two parts of the crust that apparently resided as much as 10 km apart (in depth) at times as young as the Miocene. The varied structural, metamorphic, and intrusive relations observed in the Grouse Creek Mountains reflect their formation at different levels within the crust. Data from these various levels argue that plutonism has been a key mechanism for transferring heat into the middle and upper crust, and localizing strain during regional extension. Interestingly, events documented here correlate in a broad way with cooling events documented in the Raft River Mountains, although plutons are not exposed there. Major and trace element geochemistry imply a crustal component in all of the studied plutons, indicating significant degrees of crustal melting at depth during extension, and point to mantle heat sources during the timespan of Basin and Range extension as the cause of melting. Basin and Range faulting and final uplift of the range is recorded by apatite fission track ages, averaging 13.4 Ma, and deposition of about 2 km of syn-faulting basin fill deposits along the Grouse Creek fault mapped along the western flank of the range. Similar apatite ages from the Albion Mountains to the north indicate that the western side of the Albion-Raft River-Grouse Creek core complex behaved as a single rigid crustal block at this time.

Publication Year 2003
Title Timing and nature of tertiary plutonism and extension in the Grouse Creek Mountains, Utah
DOI 10.2747/0020-6814.45.6.497
Authors A.E. Egger, T.A. Dumitru, E. L. Miller, C.F.I. Savage, J. L. Wooden
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title International Geology Review
Index ID 70025495
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse