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Geology of the crystalline basement complex, eastern Transverse Ranges, southern California : constraints on regional tectonic interpretation

Citation

Powell, Robert E. (1981) Geology of the crystalline basement complex, eastern Transverse Ranges, southern California : constraints on regional tectonic interpretation. Dissertation (Ph.D.), California Institute of Technology. http://resolver.caltech.edu/CaltechETD:etd-07252007-135803

Abstract

About 3000 km(2) within the crystalline basement complex of the Eastern Transverse Ranges in the Chuckwalla, Orocopia, Eagle, Cottonwood, Hexie, Little San Bernardino, and Pinto Mountains of Riverside County, California were mapped at scales of 1:36,000 and 1:62,500 and compiled at 1:125,000 (Plate I). Pre-Jurassic(?) (i.e., older than the Mesozoic batholiths) rocks of the crystalline complex comprise two lithologically distinct terranes. These terranes are called the Joshua Tree and San Gabriel terranes for regions of southern California in which their lithologies were initially characterized. The two terranes are superposed along a previously unrecognized low-angle fault system of regional extent, the Red Cloud thrust.

During the course of this study, the structurally lower Joshua Tree terrane has been defined as a stratigraphically coherent group of crystalline rocks that consists of Precambrian granite capped by a paleo-weathered zone and overlain nonconformably by orthoquartzite that interfingers westward with pelitic and feldspathic granofelses. The quartzite contains near-basal quartz/quartzite clast conglomerates, and has well-preserved cross-bedding that appears upright wherever it has been observed. Pelitic and feldspathic granofelses crop out to the west of the quartzite exposures in four lithologically different belts that trend northnorthwest throughout the area mapped. These lithologic belts are interpreted to have been derived from stratigraphically interfingering sedimentary protoliths deposited in a basin offshore from a quartzose beach-sand protolith. In proximity to the early Red Cloud thrust, this whole stratigraphic package was pervasively deformed to granite gneiss, stretched pebble conglomerate, lineated quartzite, and schist.

A northeast-trending pattern of metamorphic isograds was orthogonally superimposed on the northnorthwest-trending protoliths of the Pinto gneiss. A central andalusite zone, located in the southern Little San Bernardino and Hexie, and northern Eagle Mountains, is flanked to the northwest and southeast by sillimanite zones. Coincident with this symmetrical distribution of aluminosilicates is an asymmetrical distribution of other pelitic mineral zones, with prograde cordierite-aluminosilicate-biotite- and K-feldspar-aluminosilicate-bearing assemblages to the northwest in the northern Little San Bernardino and Pinto Mountains, staurolite-bearing assemblages in a narrow zone in the southern Little San Bernardino-Hexie and northern Eagle Mountains, and retrograde chlorite-muscovite-bearing assemblages in the southernmost Little San Bernardino, Cottonwood, southern Eagle, Orocopia, and Chuckwalla Mountains. One occurrence of chloritoid-sillimanite in the central Eagle Mountains is apparently also retrograde. The crossing isograds are interpreted to result from a temporal increase in PH2O relative to PT from south to north through the field area. Comparison of the pelitic assemblages with experimental studies suggests peak conditions of PT [...] 3.5 to 4 kb, T [...] 525 to 625°C. The early prograde metamorphism pre-dated the thrusting event; the retrograde stage may have overlapped in time with the emplacement of the San Gabriel terrane allochthon. Cordierite-orthoamphibole-bearing assemblages are present in one stratigraphic zone of the Pinto gneiss.

In this study, the Precambrian lithologies of the San Gabriel terrane are viewed as a three-part deep crustal section, with uppermost amphibolite grade pelitic (Hexie) gneiss intruded by granodioritic (Soledad) augen gneiss at the highest level, retrograded granulite (Augustine) gneiss at an intermediate level, and syenite-mangerite-jotunite at the lowest level exposed in the Eastern Transverse Ranges. The Hexie gneiss, characterized by sillimanite-garnet-biotite-bearing assemblages, is thrust over andalusite-bearing granofels of the Pinto gneiss.

The Red Cloud thrust system is inferred to have developed in three or four sequential structural events: 1) early thrusting that probably moved parallel to the ENE mineral lineations recorded in both plates; 2) regional folding of the initial thrust surface around NNE-trending axes; 3) later thrusting that broke with some component of westward movement across a fold in the older thrust surface to produce a stacking of crystalline thrust plates of the two terranes; 4) continued or renewed folding of both thrust faults with eventual overturning toward the SW. It is consistent with all observations to date to link these structural events into a single regional tectonic episode that resulted in westward-vergent allochthonous emplacement of the San Gabriel terrane over Joshua Tree terrane. The thrust timing can only be loosely bracketed in time between 1195 m.y. and 165 m.y. ago.

The pre-batholithic terranes and the westward-vergent Red Cloud thrust are considered to be exotic with respect to the pre-batholithic rocks and structures exposed to the north and east of the field area. The bounding discontinuity has been obliterated by intrusion of both suites of Mesozoic batholithic rocks.

The Mesozoic plutonic rocks comprise two batholithic suites, both of which intrude the Joshua Tree and San Gabriel terranes and the Red Cloud thrust system. NW-SE trending belts of plutonic lithologies have been mapped within each suite: the oldest lithology of the younger suite intrudes the youngest lithology of the older suite. The older suite, Jurassic(?), lying to the NE, appears to have an alkalic character; the younger suite, Cretaceous(?), appears calc-alkaline. The older suite consists of biotite- and K-feldspar-bearing gabbro-diorites intruded by low-quartz monzogranites. The younger suite includes hornblende-biotite-sphene granodiorite intruded by porphyritic monzogranites, intruded in turn by nonporphyritic monzogranite.

The Eastern Transverse Ranges south of the Pinto Mountain fault are defined by several Cenozoic E-W left-lateral strike-slip faults that have a cumulative westward displacement from S to N of about 50 km. The left-lateral faults are interpreted to form part of a conjugate fault set with complementary right-lateral faults in the Mojave and Colorado Deserts. Along the western boundary of the Eastern Transverse Ranges in the Little San Bernardino Mountains, the crystalline rocks have been pervasively cataclasized by an event that post-dates intrusion of the Cretaceous(?) plutonic rocks. The cataclasis is attributed to the Vincent-Orocopia-Chocolate Mountain thrust that is thought to superpose the diverse pre-batholithic and batholithic rocks of the Eastern Transverse Ranges above Pelona-type schist. The cataclastic foliation is folded along the length of the Little San Bernardino Mountains in an antiform that is inferred to be cored with Pelona-type schist. This fold may have formed a single antiformal feature comprising all the crystalline-rock antiforms now recognized along the San Andreas fault that are cored by Pelona-type schist. Displacements of the piercing points formed by the antiformal axis apparently indicate 220 km of right-lateral offset on the present San Andreas strand and about 80 km of right-lateral offset along a fragmented older San Andreas strand that consisted of the San Francisquito, Fenner, and Clemens Well faults and a buried extension of this fault beneath the alluvial fill of the valley between the Chocolate and Chuckwalla Mountains.

Item Type:Thesis (Dissertation (Ph.D.))
Degree Grantor:California Institute of Technology
Division:Geological and Planetary Sciences
Major Option:Geological and Planetary Sciences
Thesis Availability:Public (worldwide access)
Research Advisor(s):
  • Silver, Leon T. (advisor)
  • Kamb, W. Barclay (advisor)
  • Sieh, Kerry E. (advisor)
Thesis Committee:
  • Unknown, Unknown
Defense Date:7 January 1981
Author Email:rpowell (AT) usgs.gov
Record Number:CaltechETD:etd-07252007-135803
Persistent URL:http://resolver.caltech.edu/CaltechETD:etd-07252007-135803
Default Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:2981
Collection:CaltechTHESIS
Deposited By: Imported from ETD-db
Deposited On:25 Jul 2007
Last Modified:26 Dec 2012 02:56

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