The Laramie Mountains of south-eastern Wyoming contain two metamorphic domains that are separated by the 1.76 Ga. Laramie Peak shear zone (LPSZ). South of the LPSZ lies the Palmer Canyon block, where apatite U-Pb ages are c. 1745 Ma and the rocks have undergone Proterozoic kyanite-grade Barrovian metamorphism. In contrast, in the Laramie Peak block, north of the shear zone, the U-Pb apatite ages are 2.4-2.1 Ga, the granitic rocks are unmetamorphosed and supracrustal rocks record only low-T amphibolite facies metamorphism that is Archean in age. Peak mineral assemblages in the Palmer Canyon block include (a) quartz-biotite-plagioclase-garnet-staurolite-kyanite in the pelitic schists; (b) quartz-biotite-plagioclase-low-Ca amphiboles-kyanite in Mg-Al-rich schists, and locally (c) hornblende-plagioclase-garnet in amphibolites. All rock types show abundant textural evidence of decompression and retrograde re-equilibration. Notable among the texturally late minerals are cordierite and sapphirine, which occur in coronas around kyanite in Mg-Al-rich schists. Thermobarometry from texturally early and late assemblages for samples from different areas within the Palmer Canyon block define decompression from > 7 kbar to < 3 kbar. The high-pressure regional metamorphism is interpreted to be a response to thrusting associated with the Medicine Bow orogeny at c. 1.78-1.76 Ga. At this time, the north-central Laramie Range was tectonically thickened by as much as 12 km. This crustal thickening extended for more than 60 km north of the Cheyenne belt in southern Wyoming. Late in the orogenic cycle, rocks of the Palmer Canyon block were uplifted and unroofed as the result of transpression along the Laramie Peak shear zone to produce the widespread decompression textures. The Proterozoic tectonic history of the central Laramie Range is similar to exhumation that accompanied late-orogenic oblique convergence in many Phanerozoic orogenic belts.
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Proterozoic metamorphism and uplift history of the north-central Laramie Mountains, Wyoming, USA