Tilting, burial, and uplift of the Guadalupe Igneous Complex, Sierra Nevada, California

Geological Society of America Bulletin
By:  and 



It is often incorrectly assumed that plutons have a relatively uneventful structural history after emplacement. The 151 Ma Guadalupe Igneous Complex (GIC) in the Foothills Terrane, California, was involved in three post-emplacement events: (1) ∼30° of southwestside-up tilting during ductile regional faulting and contraction, (2) burial of the pluton from ∼4 to 12 km during crustal thickening of the wall rocks, and (3) uplift with only minor tilting in the Late Cretaceous. Tilting of the pluton is indicated by (1) southwest to northeast gradational changes from layered gabbros and diorites to granites and granophyres; (2) northeastward dips of layering in gabbro, internal contacts, and bedding of overlying coeval(?) volcanic rocks; (3) northeastward decrease in wall-rock metamorphic grade; and (4) paleomagnetic data from 14 localities across the pluton. We argue that tilting occurred between 146-135 Ma during southwest-northeast-directed regional contraction. This contraction is indicated by widespread folds and cleavages and by reverse motion on the Bear Mountains fault zone (BMFZ), a large northeast-dipping shear zone that bounds the GIC on its southwest side. Burial of the GIC, which overlapped in time but outlasted tilting, is suggested by (1) post-emplacement contractional faulting, folding, and cleavage development; (2) analyses of strains associated with widespread cleavage that indicate vertical thickening of ∼100% and (3) microstructural and mineral assemblage data that indicate shallow emplacement of the GIC, in contrast to mineral assemblage and limited geobarometric data from adjacent 120-110 Ma plutons that indicate moderate emplacement levels. Late Cretaceous uplift is indicated by 95-75 Ma sedimentary rocks that unconformably overlie the 120-110 Ma plutons.

This geologic history is interesting for several reasons. First, although the GIC participated in extensive post-emplacement deformation, it lacks internal structural evidence of these events, except locally along the Bear Mountains fault zone. Second, the agreement between paleomagnetic and structural evidence for tilting suggests that no large latitudinal displacement of the GIC is required. Third, the paleomagnetic data also help to define the geometry of the magma chamber now represented by the GIC. Lack of streaking of paleomagnetic site-mean directions demonstrates that the pluton acted as a single unit after cooling through the blocking temperature (450-560 °C) of low-titanium titanomagnetite; however, variations in the dip of internal layering and contacts, from 70° at the base to 30° near the top of the pluton, indicate that not all of these features were horizontal and planar when they formed. We propose that this variation in dip of layering is most consistent with sidewall crystallization of magma resulting in drape of layering along the walls of the intrusion. Therefore, internal layering within this pluton does not record paleohorizontal.

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Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Tilting, burial, and uplift of the Guadalupe Igneous Complex, Sierra Nevada, California
Series title Geological Society of America Bulletin
DOI 10.1130/0016-7606(1993)105<1310:TBAUOT>2.3.co;2
Volume 105
Issue 10
Year Published 1993
Language English
Publisher The Geological Society of America
Contributing office(s) Alaska Science Center
Description 11 p.
First page 1310
Last page 1320
Country United States
State California
Other Geospatial Sierra Nevada