Implications of low-temperature cooling history on a transect across the Colorado Plateau-Basin and Range boundary, west central Arizona

Journal of Geophysical Research
By: , and 



Fission track ages of apatite and zircon from metamorphic, plutonic, and sedimentary rocks along a 80-km transect across the Colorado Plateau-Basin and Range boundary in west central Arizona show differences in the low-temperature cooling histories between the provinces. The transect extends from Cypress Mountain in the Colorado Plateau transition zone to the eastern Buckskin Mountains in the Basin and Range. Along the northeast margin of the Basin and Range province, metamorphic rocks exposed in the footwall of a major detachment fault system yield zircon and apatite fission track ages of 16–10 Ma. These ages are similar to K-Ar fusion ages of biotite and age minima of K-feldspar on 40Ar/39Ar age spectra and collectively indicate rapid cooling. One K-feldspar age spectrum has an age maximum of about 22.8 Ma, an age minimum of 11.8 Ma, and a spectrum whose shape is suggestive of reheating, possibly in middle Miocene time. The heating event was probably related to hydrothermal activity during emplacement of Cu and Mn deposits in and above the detachment fault zone. Effects of this heating are only locally detected in rocks above the detachment fault. In the Poachie Range fission track ages of apatite and zircon are 60–50 and 80–70 Ma, respectively. The disparity between the apatite and zircon ages indicates that the rocks cooled slowly in Late Cretaceous and early Tertiary time, probably due to gradual uplift and erosion. Total uplift and denudation in the area of the Poachie Range since Cretaceous time is 6 km or more. To the northeast of the range, fission track ages of apatite and zircon increase and diverge, indicating that apparent uplift decreased in that direction. The apatite ages from the Poachie Range are concordant with early Tertiary hornblende ages determined in other studies of lower plate rocks near the southwest end of the transect. The ages represent cooling of crystalline rocks after Cretaceous regional metamorphism and magmatism. Near Bagdad, 20 km northeast of the Poachie Range, 2 km or less of erosion has occurred since intrusion of high-level plutons and dikes and caldera formation in Late Cretaceous time. Remnants of an erosion surface that developed in middle Tertiary time are preserved in the transition zone. Volcanic and sedimentary rocks at least as old as early Miocene were deposited on the erosion surface and filled valleys cut into it. Dissection of these deposits began about 8 Ma. We interpret these data combined with those from other studies to indicate that in Cretaceous time southward thrusting and later extensive magmatism in the middle crust led to thickening and heating of the crust. The Cretaceous igneous rocks at Bagdad are high-level manifestations of this magmatism. Uplift and slow cooling occurred in Late Cretaceous and early Tertiary time. In late Oligocene and early Miocene time during northeast-southwest extension, middle crustal rocks moved southwest put from beneath the southwest margin of the transition zone. Tectonic denudation rapidly exposed the crust that had been brought up from a depth of 10 km or more and rapidly cooled in the eastern Buckskin and Harcuvar mountains. Middle Miocene reheating occurred locally in the lower plate, along the detachment, and in nearby parts of the upper plate.

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Implications of low-temperature cooling history on a transect across the Colorado Plateau-Basin and Range boundary, west central Arizona
Series title Journal of Geophysical Research
DOI 10.1029/90JB02027
Volume 96
Issue B7
Year Published 1991
Language English
Publisher American Geophysical Union
Description 14 p.
First page 12375
Last page 12388
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