Episodic growth of a Late Cretaceous and Paleogene intrusive complex of pegmatitic leucogranite, Ruby Mountains core complex, Nevada, USA

K. A. Howard, J. L. Wooden, C. G. Barnes, W. R. Premo, A. W. Snoke, S. Y. Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

15 Scopus citations

Abstract

Gneissic pegmatitic leucogranite forms a dominant component (>600 km3) of the midcrustal infrastructure of the Ruby Mountains-East Humboldt Range core complex (Nevada, USA), and was assembled and modified episodically into a batholithic volume by myriad small intrusions from ca. 92 to 29 Ma. This injection complex consists of deformed sheets and other bodies emplaced syntectonically into a stratigraphic framework of marble, calc-silicate rocks, quartzite, schist, and other granitoids. Bodies of pegmatitic granite coalesce around host-rock remnants, which preserve relict or ghost stratigraphy, thrusts, and fold nappes. Intrusion inflated but did not disrupt the host-rock structure. The pegmatitic granite increases proportionally downward from structurally high positions to the bottoms of 1-km-deep canyons where it constitutes 95%-100% of the rock. Zircon and monazite dated by U-Pb (sensitive high-resolution ion microprobe, SHRIMP) for this rock type cluster diffusely at ages near 92, 82(?), 69, 38, and 29 Ma, and indicate successive or rejuvenated igneous crystallization multiple times over long periods of the Late Cretaceous and the Paleogene. Initial partial melting of unexposed pelites may have generated granite forerunners, which were remobilized several times in partial melting events. Sources for the pegmatitic granite differed isotopically from sources of similar-aged interleaved equigranular granites. Dominant Late Cretaceous and fewer Paleogene ages recorded from some pegmatitic granite samples, and Paleogene-only ages from the two structurally deepest samples, together with varying zircon trace element contents, suggest several disparate ages of final emplacement or remobilization of various small bodies. Folded sills that merge with dikes that cut the same folds suggest that there may have been in situ partial remobilization. The pegmatitic granite intrusions represent prolonged and recurrent generation, assembly, and partial melting modification of a batholithic volume even while the regional tectonic environment varied dramatically from contractile thickening to extension and mafic underplating.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1220-1248
Number of pages29
JournalGeosphere
Volume7
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 24 2011

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