Zircon U-Pb ages and petrologic evolution of the English Peak granitic pluton: Jurassic crustal growth in northwestern California

W. G. Ernst, Eric S. Gottlieb, Calvin G. Barnes, Jeremy K. Hourigan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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In the central Klamath Mountains, the English Peak plutonic complex (EPC) invaded the faulted contact between the outboard Eastern Hayfork and inboard North Fork terranes of the Western Paleozoic and Triassic Belt (WTrPz). This calc-alkaline igneous complex is composed of two small, ~1-2-km-diameter, relatively mafic satellitic plutons peripheral to the younger, much larger, ~10-15-km-diameter English Peak zoned granitic pluton. The EPC magmas were mantle derived and reflect temporary residence and mixing at various depths in the overlying crust, with initial storage and modification near the Moho, and uppermost crustal emplacement at 5-10 km depths. Phase assemblages suggest pre-emplacement magma storage at a depth of ~20-25 km for the early satellitic plutons, versus ~15-20 km for samples from the larger zoned granitic pluton. We obtained zircon U-Pb geochronologic results (reported as internal and external weighted-mean 207Pb-corrected 206Pb/238U ages, 95% confidence level) from seven samples in the complex via laser ablation- inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry (LA-ICP-MS). The 172.3 � 2.0 [3.7] Ma Uncles Creek and 166.9 � 1.6 [3.4] Ma Heiney Bar satellitic plutons range from gabbro-quartz diorite to granodiorite in bulk-rock composition. The main English Peak pluton consists of an early stage of gabbro-tonalite (three samples: 160.4 � 1.1 [3.1] Ma, 158.1 � 1.1 [3.1] Ma, and 158.0 � 1.2 [3.1] Ma) and a late stage (two samples: 156.3 � 1.3 [3.1] Ma and 155.3 � 1.2 [3.0] Ma) passing inward from tonalite through granodiorite to a central zone of granite. The 172 Ma age of the Uncles Creek pluton makes it coeval with Middle Jurassic Western Hayfork arc magmatism. In contrast, Heiney Bar and the main English Peak igneous ages overlap some of the oldest and youngest components, respectively, of the Middle to Late Jurassic Wooley Creek plutonic suite. Study of this multiple-intrusion complex provides an illuminating example of the gradual intermediate-to-felsic modification of the upper crust in the central Klamath Mountains. Inherited zircon ages of ca. 172 Ma in two other EPC samples indicate potential Middle Jurassic crustal sources or contaminants. Geochronologic correlation of the EPC with geologic histories of other Klamath terranes provides fresh insights for understanding spatial and temporal elements of Middle to Late Jurassic arc magmatism in the Klamath Mountains sector of the Cordilleran margin. This igneous activity illuminates some petrotectonic processes whereby accreted ophiolitic basement terranes were modified and incorporated into the evolving Jurassic continental crust. It took place prior to the earliest Cretaceous onset of westward transport of the stack of Klamath allochthons relative to the active Jura-Cretaceous Sierran calc-alkaline arc.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1422-1436
Number of pages15
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2016


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