Reconnaissance geology and geochronology of the Precambrian of the Granite Mountains, Wyoming

Professional Paper 1055




The Precambrian of the western part of the Granite Mountains, Wyoming, contains a metamorphic complex of gneisses, schists, and amphibolites that were derived through amphibolite-grade metamorphism from a sedimentary-volcanic sequence perhaps similar to that exposed in the southeastern Wind River Mountains. Whole-rock Rb-Sr dating places the time of metamorphism at 2,860?80 million years. A high initial 87Sr/ 86 S r ratio of 0.7048 suggests that either the protoliths or the source terrane of the sedimentary component is several hundred million years older than the time of metamorphism. Following an interval of 300:t100 million years for which the geologic record is lacking or still undeciphered, the metamorphic complex was intruded by a batholith and satellite bodies of medium- to coarse-grained, generally massive biotite granite and related pegmatite and aplite. The main body of granite is dated at 2,550?60 million years by the Rb-Sr method. Limited data suggest that diabase dikes were emplaced and nephrite veins were formed only shortly after intrusion of the granite. Emplacement of the granite at about 2,550 million years ago appears to be related to a major period of regional granitic plutonism in the Precambrian of southern and western Wyoming. Granites, in the strict sense, that are dated between 2,450 and 2,600 million years occur in the Teton Range, the Sierra Madre, the Medicine Bow Mountains and the Laramie Range. This episode of granitic plutonism occured some 50 to 100 million years later than the major tonalitic to granitic plutonism in the Superior province of northern Minnesota and adjacent Ontario-the nearest exposed Precambrian W terrane that is analogous to the Wyoming province. Initial 87Sr / 86Sr ratios of some of the Wyoming granites are higher than expected if the rocks had been derived from juvenile magmas and it is likely that older crustal rocks were involved to some degree in the generation of these granites. Slightly to highly disturbed Rb-Sr and K-Ar mineral ages are obtained on rocks of the metamorphic complex and on the granite. These ages range from about 2,400 to 1,420 million years and are part of a regional pattern of lowered mineral ages of Precambrian W rocks of southern Wyoming. A major discontinuity in these mineral ages occurs along a line extending from the northern Laramie Range, through the northern part of the Granite Mountains, to the southeastern Wind River Mountains. North of this line, Rb-Sr and K-Ar biotite ages are 2,300 million years or greater, whereas to the south, the biotite ages decrease drastically over a short distance, to a common range of 1,600-1,400 million years. We suggest that these lowered ages represent regional cooling below the 300 0 C isotherm as a consequence of uplift and erosion of the large crustal block occurring south of the age discontinuity. In this interpretation, the westerly-trending age discontinuity would be a zone of major crustal dislocation that resulted from vertical tectonics in late Precambrian X or early Precambrian Y time.

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Reconnaissance geology and geochronology of the Precambrian of the Granite Mountains, Wyoming
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Professional Paper
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U.S. Govt. Print. Off.,
22 p.