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Scientific Investigations Map 2884

Precambrian Crystalline Basement Map of Idaho—An Interpretation of Aeromagnetic Anomalies

By P.K. Sims, Karen Lund, and E. Anderson

Idaho lies within the northern sector of the U.S. Cordillera astride the boundary between the Proterozoic continent (Laurentia) to the east and the Permian to Jurassic accreted terranes to the west. The continental basement is mostly covered by relatively undeformed Mesoproterozoic metasedimentary rocks and intruded or covered by Phanerozoic igneous rocks; accordingly, knowledge of the basement geology is poorly constrained. Incremental knowledge gained since the pioneering studies by W. Lindgren, C.P. Ross, A.L. Anderson, A. Hietanen, and others during the early- and mid-1900's has greatly advanced our understanding of the general geology of Idaho. However, knowledge of the basement geology remains relatively poor, partly because of the remoteness of much of the region plus the lack of a stimulus to decipher the complex assemblage of high-grade gneisses and migmatite of central Idaho. The availability of an updated aeromagnetic anomaly map of Idaho (North American Magnetic Anomaly Group, 2002) provides a means to determine the regional Precambrian geologic framework of the State. The combined geologic and aeromagnetic data permit identification of previously unrecognized crystalline basement terranes, assigned to Archean and Paleoproterozoic ages, and the delineation of major shear zones, which are expressed in the aeromagnetic data as linear negative anomalies (Finn and Sims, 2004). Limited geochronologic data on exposed crystalline basement aided by isotopic studies of zircon inheritance, particularly Bickford and others (1981) and Mueller and others (1995), provide much of the geologic background for our interpretation of the basement geology. In northwestern United States, inhomogeneities in the basement inherited from Precambrian tectogenesis controlled many large-scale tectonic features that developed during the Phanerozoic. Two basement structures, in particular, provided zones of weakness that were repeatedly rejuvenated: (1) northeast-trending ductile shear zones developed on the northwest margin of the Archean Wyoming province during the Paleoproterozoic Trans-Montana orogeny (Sims and others, 2004), and (2) northwest-trending intra-continental faults of the Mesoproterozoic Trans-Rocky Mountain strike-slip fault system (Sims, unpub. data, 2003). In this report, geologic ages are reported in millions of years (Ma) and generalized ages are given in billions of years (Ga). The subdivision of Precambrian rocks used herein is the time classification recommended by the International Union of Geological Sciences (Plumb, 1991).

Version 1.0

Posted April 2005

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