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The Beartooth-Bighorn magmatic zone (BBMZ) and the Montana metasedimentary province (MMP) are two major subprovinces of the Archean Wyoming province. In the northwestern Beartooth Mountains, these subprovinces are separated by a structurally, lithologically and metamorphically complex assemblage of lithotectonic units that include: (1) a strongly deformed complex of trondhjemitic gneiss and interlayered amphibolites; and (2) an amphibolite facies mafic unit that occurs in a nappe that structurally overlies the gneiss complex. Zircons from a trondhjemitic blastomylonite in the gneiss complex yield concordant U-Pb ages of 3.5 Ga, establishing it as the oldest rock yet documented in the Wyoming province. Two younger events are also recorded by zircons in this rock: (1) an apparently protracted period of high-grade metamorphism and/or intrusion of additional magmas at ??? 3.25 Ga; and (2) growth of hydrothermal zircon at ??? 2.55 Ga, apparently associated with ductile deformation that immediately preceded structural emplacement of the gneiss. Although this latter event appears confined to areas along the BBMZ-MMP boundary, evidence of ??? 3.25 Ga igneous activity is found in the overlying amphibolite (3.24 Ga) and throughout the MMP. These data suggest that this boundary first developed as a major intracratonic zone of displacement at or before 3.25 Ga. The limited occurrences of 2.8 Ga magmatic activity in the MMP suggest that it had a controlling influence on late Archean magmatism as well.
Additional Publication Details
Extended history of a 3.5 Ga trondhjemitic gneiss, Wyoming Province, USA: Evidence from U-Pb systematics in zircon