Significance of zircon U-Pb ages from the Pescadero felsite, west-central California coast ranges

Geological Society of America Bulletin
By: , and 



Weathered felsite is associated with the late Campanian–Maastrichtian Pigeon Point Formation near Pescadero, California. Poorly exposed, its age and correlation are uncertain. Is it part of the Pigeon Point section west of the San Gregorio–Hosgri fault? Does it rest on Nacimiento block basement? Is it dextrally offset from the Oligocene Cambria Felsite, ∼185 km to the southeast? Why is a calc-alkaline hypabyssal igneous rock intrusive into the outboard accretionary prism? To address these questions, we analyzed 43 oscillatory-zoned zircon crystals from three incipiently recrystallized pumpellyite ± prehnite ± laumontite-bearing Pescadero felsite samples by sensitive high-resolution ion microprobe–reverse geometry (SHRIMP-RG) and laser ablation–inductively coupled plasma–mass spectrometry (LA-ICP-MS) techniques. Thirty-three zircons gave late Mesozoic U-Pb ages, with single-grain values ranging from 81 to 167 Ma; ten have pre-Mesozoic, chiefly Proterozoic ages. A group of the four youngest Pescadero zircons yielded an apparent maximum igneous age of ca. 86–90 Ma. Reflecting broad age scatter and presence of partly digested sandstone inclusions, we interpret the rest of the zircons (perhaps all) as xenocrysts. Twenty-three zircons were separated and analyzed from two samples of the similar Cambria Felsite, yielding a unimodal 27 Ma U-Pb age. Clearly, the origin of the Upper Oligocene Cambria Felsite is different from that of the Upper Cretaceous Pescadero felsite; these rocks are not correlated, and do not constrain displacement along the San Gregorio–Hosgri fault. Peak ages differ slightly, but relative probability curves for Mesozoic and pre-Mesozoic Pescadero zircons compare well, for example, with abundant U-Pb age data for detrital zircons from Franciscan metaclastic strata ∼100 km to the east in the Diablo Range–San Francisco Bay area, San Joaquin Great Valley Group turbidites, Upper Cretaceous Nacimiento block Franciscan strata, and Upper Cretaceous forearc units of the Transverse Ranges. Based on zircon U-Pb ages, geologic and petrographic relations, the Pescadero felsite and a capping, sheared metaconglomerate underlie the Pigeon Point Formation. We infer that the magma formed by anatexis of Franciscan or Great Valley clastic sedimentary rocks originating from a parental Mesozoic Sierran-Mojave-Salinian calc-alkaline arc. The felsite erupted during Late Cretaceous time, was metamorphosed to pumpellyite-prehnite grade within the subduction zone, and then was rapidly exhumed, weakly zeolitized, and exposed before Pigeon Point forearc deposition. Pescadero volcanism apparently reflects a previously unrecognized ca. 86–90 Ma felsic igneous event in the accretionary margin.
Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Significance of zircon U-Pb ages from the Pescadero felsite, west-central California coast ranges
Series title Geological Society of America Bulletin
DOI 10.1130/B30270.1
Volume 123
Issue 7-8
Year Published 2011
Language English
Publisher Geological Society of America
Contributing office(s) Geology and Geophysics Science Center
Larger Work Type Article
Larger Work Subtype Journal Article
Larger Work Title Geological Society of America Bulletin
First page 1497
Last page 1512
Country United States
State California
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