Multiple sediment incorporation events in a continental magmatic arc: Insight from the metasedimentary rocks of the northern North Cascades, Washington (USA)


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Geological Society of America


The rheology and composition of arc crust and the overall evolution of continental magmatic arcs can be affected by sediment incorporation events. The exhumed Cretaceous-Eocene North Cascades arc exposes abundant meta-sedimentary rocks that were incorporated into the arc during multiple events. This study uses field relationships, detrital zircon geochronology, bulk rock geo-chemistry, geothermometry, and quartz-in-garnet geobarometry to distinguish approximate contacts and emplacement depths for different metasedimentary units to better understand their protolith incorporation history and impact on the arc. The Skagit Gneiss Complex is one of the main deep crustal units of the North Cascades arc. It includes metasedimentary rocks with distinct detrital zircon signatures: Proterozoic-Cretaceous (Group 1) or Triassic-Cretaceous (Group 2) zircon populations. Both metasedimentary groups achieved near-peak metamorphic conditions of 640-800 degrees C and 5.5-7.9 kbar; several Group 2 samples reveal the higher pressures. A third group of meta sedimentary rocks, which was previously interpreted as metamorphosed equivalents of backarc sediments (Group 3), exhibited unimodal Triassic or bimodal Late Jurassic- Early Cretaceous detrital zircon signatures and achieved near-peak conditions of 570-700 degrees C and 8.7-10.5 kbar. The combined field and analytical data indi-cate that protoliths of Group 1 and Group 2 metasedimentary rocks were successively deposited in a forearc basin and underthrusted into the arc as a relatively coherent body. Group 3 backarc sediments were incorporated into the arc along a transpressional step-over zone. The incorporation of both forearc and backarc sediments was likely facilitated by arc magmatism that weakened arc crust in combination with regional transpression.



skagit gneiss complex, coast mountains batholith, san-juan islands, detrital zircon provenance, ross lake fault, ti-in-zircon, u-th-pb, british-columbia, methow basin, deep crust