Contrasting Proterozoic basement complexes near the truncated margin of Laurentia, northwestern Sonora–Arizona international border region

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We utilize new geological mapping, conventional isotope dilution–thermal ionization mass spectrometry (ID-TIMS) and sensitive high-resolution ion microprobe (SHRIMP) U-Pb zircon analyses, and whole-rock radiogenic isotope characteristics to distinguish two contrasting Proterozoic basement complexes in the international border region southeast of Yuma, Arizona. Strategically located near the truncated southwest margin of Laurentia, these Proterozoic exposures are separated by a northwest-striking Late Cretaceous batholith. Although both complexes contain strongly deformed Paleoproterozoic granitoids (augen gneisses) intruded into fine-grained host rocks, our work demonstrates marked differences in age, host rock composition, and structure between the two areas.

The Western Complex reveals a >5-km-thick tilted section of finely banded felsic, intermediate, and mafic orthogneiss interspersed with tabular intrusive bodies of medium-grained leucocratic biotite granite (1696 ± 11 Ma; deepest level), medium-grained hornblende-biotite granodiorite (1722 ± 12 Ma), and coarse-grained porphyritic biotite granite (1725 ± 19 Ma; shallowest level). Penetrative ductile deformation has converted the granites to augen gneisses and caused isoclinal folding and transposition of primary contacts. Exposed in a belt of northwest-trending folds, these rocks preserve southwest-vergent shear fabric annealed during amphibolite facies metamorphism, when crystalloblastic textures developed. Deformation and regional metamorphism occurred before emplacement of 1.1 Ga(?) mafic dikes.

Throughout the Eastern Complex, meta-arkose, quartzite, biotite schist, and possible felsic metavolcanic rocks comprise the country rocks of strongly foliated medium- and coarse-grained biotite granite augen gneisses that yield mean 207Pb/206Pb ages of 1646 ± 10 Ma, 1642 ± 19 Ma, and 1639 ± 15 Ma. Detrital zircons from four samples of host sandstone are isotopically disturbed; nevertheless, the data indicate a restricted provenance (ca. 1665 Ma to 1650 Ma), with two older grains (1697 and 1681 Ma). The pervasively recrystallized Paleoproterozoic map units strike parallel to foliation and are repeated in south-trending folds that are locally refolded about easterly hinges. Southeasterly lineation developed in augen gneiss and host strata becomes penetrative in local domains of L-tectonite. Regional metamorphism associated with this tectonism persisted until ca. 1590 Ma, as recorded by metamorphic growths within some zircon grains. Mesoproterozoic intrusions that crosscut the Paleoproterozoic metasediments and augen gneisses include coarsely porphyritic biotite granite (1432 ± 6 Ma) and diabase dikes (1.1 Ga?). Emplacement of the granite was accompanied by secondary high-U overgrowths, dated at 1433 ± 8 Ma, on some of the Paleoproterozoic detrital zircons, and apparently was also responsible for resetting the whole-rock Pb isotopic systematics (1441 ± 39 Ma) within these Eastern Complex augen gneisses.

Younger plutons emplaced into both Proterozoic basement complexes include medium-grained quartz diorite (73.4 ± 3.3 Ma and 72.8 ± 1.7 Ma), Late Cretaceous hornblende-biotite granodiorite, and Paleogene leucocratic biotite granite. Neogene sedimentary and volcanic strata overlie basement along unconformities that are tilted to the northeast, southeast, or southwest. A brittle normal fault, dipping gently northeast, juxtaposes Tertiary andesite with Paleoproterozoic metasandstone. These relationships suggest that the area shares a common history of mid-Tertiary extension with southwestern Arizona. Later influence of the southern San Andreas fault system is implied by multiple dextral offsets of pre-Tertiary units across northwest-trending valleys.

Our structural, geochronologic, and isotopic data provide new information to constrain pre–750 Ma Rodinia reconstructions involving southwestern Laurentia. Whole-rock U-Th-Pb and Rb-Sr isotopic systematics in both Paleoproterozoic gneiss complexes are disturbed, however, well-behaved Sm-Nd analyses preserve depleted initial εNd values (+2 to +4) that are distinct from the Mojave crustal province, but overlapping with the Yavapai and Mazatzal Provinces of Arizona. The Eastern Complex has the appropriate age and Nd isotopic signature to be part of the Mazatzal Province, but records major tectonism and metamorphism at ca. 1.6 Ga that postdates the Mazatzal orogeny. Deformed granitoids of the Western Complex have “Yavapai-type” ages and εNd but display structures discordant to the southwesterly Yavapai trend in central Arizona. The Western Complex lies along-strike with similar-age rocks (1.77 Ga to 1.69 Ga) of the “Caborca block” that have only been studied in detail near Quitovac and south of Caborca. Collectively, these rocks form a northwest-trending strip of basement situated at the truncated edge of Laurentia. The present-day basement geography may reflect an original oroclinal bend in the Yavapai orogenic belt. Alternatively, the western Proterozoic belt of Sonora may represent displaced fragments of basement juxtaposed against the Yavapai-Mazatzal Provinces along a younger sinistral transform fault (e.g., the Late Jurassic Mojave-Sonora megashear or the Permian Coahuila transform). Crustal blocks with these specific petrologic, geochronologic, and isotopic characteristics can be found in south-central and northeastern portions of the Australian Proterozoic basement, further supporting a connection between the two continents prior to breakup of the Rodinian supercontinent.

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Publication type Book chapter
Publication Subtype Book Chapter
Title Contrasting Proterozoic basement complexes near the truncated margin of Laurentia, northwestern Sonora–Arizona international border region
DOI 10.1130/0-8137-2393-0.123
Volume 393
Year Published 2005
Language English
Publisher Geological Society of America
Publisher location The Mojave-Sonora Megashear Hypothesis: Development, Assessment, and Alternatives
Contributing office(s) Geosciences and Environmental Change Science Center
Description 60 p.
Larger Work Type Book
Larger Work Subtype Monograph
First page 123
Last page 182
Country Mexico, United States
State Arizona, California, Nevada, Sonora
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