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The North American Cordillera near the Fortieth Parallel consists of the following tectonic units: 1. (A) To the east is a reactivated cratonic area, in the Southern Rocky Mountains and Colorado Plateau, in which the supracrustal rocks (Cambrian to Cretaceous) were broadly deformed during the late Cretaceous-Paleocene Laramide orogeny, and the Precambrian basement was raised in folds of wide amplitude. 2. (B) West of it is a miogeosynclinal belt, in the eastern Great Basin, in which a thick sequence of Paleozoic carbonates and related deposits was thrust eastward along low-angle faults during the middle to late Cretaceous Sevier orogeny. The miogeosyncline is the downwarped western margin of the original North American continent, and its rocks accumulated on Precambrian basement. 3. (C) Beyond is a eugeosynclinal belt, in the western Great Basin, in which Paleozoic graywackes, cherts, and volcanics were thrust easteastward along low-angle faults during several Paleozoic orogenies - the mid-Paleozoic Antler orogeny which produced the Roberts thrust on the east, and the end-Paleozoic Sonoma orogeny which produced the Golconda thrust farther west. The Paleozoic eugeosynclinal rocks accumulated on oceanic basement. They are overlapped from the west by Triassic and Jurassic shelf deposits, which pass westward into eugeosynclinal deposits. 4. (D) A volcanic island-arc belt existed on the sites of the Sierra Nevada in Paleozoic and early Mesozoic time, which produced thick bodies of sediments and volcanics. During the mid-Mesozoic Nevadan orogeny these were steeply deformed and thrust westward over subduction zones, and were intruded by granitic rocks that rose from the upper mantle to form great batholiths. 5. (E) West of the Sierra Nevada, in the Great Valley, is a great sedimentary embankment of later Mesozoic flysch or turbidite, largely younger than the supracrustal rocks of the Sierra Nevada and the Nevadan orogeny. It was formed of the erosional products of the supracrustal and granitic rocks of the Sierra Nevada. 6. (F) This sequence is, in turn, thrust westward over the Mesozoic Franciscan terrane of the Coast Ranges, which forms the westernmost belt of the Cordillera, and which is being treated in other papers in this symposium. The net effect of the prolonged events that produced the Cordillera in this segment has been the addition of successive tectonic belts to the North American continent at the expense of the Pacific Ocean basin during Phanerozoic time. ?? 1978.
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Tectonics of the North American Cordillera near the Fortieth Parallel