Geology of a zone of metamorphic core complexes in southeastern Arizona

Geological Society Memoir



An elongate northwest-trending zone of batholith-size metamorphic core complexes extends some 130 km from the Rincon Mountains to the Picacho Mountains in southeastern Arizona. The complexes are characterized by undeformed to gneissic granitic intrusions, gneissic to phyllonitic xenoliths and wall rocks derived mainly from Precambrian granitic rock, shallow-dipping foliation, and remarkably uniform directions of lineation. Parts of this zone have been recognized and studied extensively for more than 30 yr, but there remains a divergence of opinion about the age, depth of emplacement, and origin of the complexes. Field relations indicate that host rocks as young as or younger than Mesozoic were involved in cataclasis. K-Ar and fission-track ages indicate that the complexes were at temperatures uniformly in excess of 400°C in the middle Tertiary (20 to 30 m.y. ago) and that the bedrock between and very near the complexes was not thermally affected. Tertiary plutons characteristically associated with the high-grade metamorphic rocks are also cataclastically deformed, and stratigraphic depths to the top of metamorphic terranes were no more than 6 km and possibly less than 3 km. These and other data suggest to some that the complexes developed during intrusion of composite batholiths at shallow depth in an anisotropic stress field during the middle Tertiary. On the other hand, Rb-Sr and U-Th-Pb techniques yielded older ages (≥44 m.y.) for some samples. These and additional data suggest to others that major development of cataclasis preceded the middle Tertiary and included regional thrusting.

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Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Geology of a zone of metamorphic core complexes in southeastern Arizona
Series title Geological Society Memoir
DOI 10.1130/MEM153
Year Published 1980
Language English
Publisher Geological Society of America
Description 39 p.
First page 177
Last page 215
Country United States
State Arizona
City Tucson
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