Geology of the Blue Mountains region of Oregon, Idaho, and Washington; stratigraphy, physiography, and mineral resources of the Blue Mountains region

Professional Paper 1439




PART 1: Stratigraphic and sedimentological analysis of sedimentary sequences from the Wallowa terrane of northeastern Oregon has provided a unique insight into the paleogeography and depositional history of the terrane, as well as establishing important constraints on its tectonic evolution and accretionary history. Its Late Triassic history is considered here by examining the two most important sedimentary units in the Wallowa terrane-the Martin Bridge Limestone and the Hurwal Formation. Conformably overlying epiclastic volcanic rocks of the Seven Devils Group, the Martin Bridge Limestone comprises shallow-water platform carbonate rocks and deeper water, off-platform slope and basin facies. Regional stratigraphic and tectonic relations suggest that the Martin Bridge was deposited in a narrow, carbonate-dominated (forearc?) basin during a lull in volcanic activity. The northern Wallowa platform was a narrow, rimmed shelf delineated by carbonate sand shoals. Interior parts of the shelf were characterized by supratidal to shallow subtidal carbonates and evaporites, which were deposited in a restricted basin. In the southern Wallowa Mountains, lithofacies of the Martin Bridge are primarily carbonate turbidites and debris flow deposits, which accumulated on a carbonate slope apron adjacent to the northern Wallowa rimmed shelf from which they were derived. Drowning of the platform in the latest Triassic, coupled with a renewed influx of volcanically derived sediments, resulted in the progradation of fine-grained turbidites of the Hurwal Formation over the carbonate platform. Within the Hurwal, Norian conglomerates of the Excelsior Gulch unit contain exotic clasts of radiolarian chert, which were probably derived from the Bakei terrane. Such a provenance provides evidence of a tectonic link between the Baker and Wallowa terranes as early as the Late Triassic, and offers support for the theory that both terranes were part of a more extensive and complex Blue Mountains island-arc terrane. PART 2: Mesozoic rocks exposed along the Snake River in the northern Wallowa terrane represent a volcanic island and its associated sedimentary basins within the Blue Mountains island arc of Washington, Oregon, and Idaho. In the northern part of the Wallowa terrane, rock units include the Wild Sheep Creek, Doyle Creek, and Coon Hollow Formations, the (informal) Imnaha intrusion, and the (informal) Dry Creek stock. The volcanic rocks of the Ladinian to Karnian Wild Sheep Creek Formation show two stages of evolution-an early dacitic phase Gower volcanic faciesY and a late mafic phase (upper volcanic facies). The two volcanic facies are separated by eruption-generated turbidites of siliceous argillites and arkosic arenites (argillitesandstone facies). The two magmatic phases of the Wild Sheep Creek Formation may be recorded by the compositional zoning from older quartz diorite and diorite to younger gabbro in the Imnaha intrusion. Although the Late Triassic Imnaha intrusion is in fault contact with the Wild Sheep Creek Formation, it may be a subduction-related pluton and was the likely magma source for the Wild Sheep Creek Formation. Interbedded with the upper volcanic facies are eruption-generated turbidite and debris flow deposits (sandstone-breccia facies) and thick carbonate units (limestone facies). The limestone facies consists of two marker units, which may represent carbonate platform environments. Clast imbrication, fossil orientation, and cross-stratification in the Wild Sheep Creek Formation indicate a shoaling to subaerial volcanic island to the south and southeast; sediment was transported to the north and northwest. The Karnian Doyle Creek Formation consists largely of epiclastic conglomerate, sandstone, and shale that were deposited in welloxygenated basins. Vitric tuffs interbedded with these sediments suggest shallow or subaerial pyroclastic eruptions. Quartz diorite clasts in this formation may indicate uplift

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Geology of the Blue Mountains region of Oregon, Idaho, and Washington; stratigraphy, physiography, and mineral resources of the Blue Mountains region
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Professional Paper
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198 p.