The lowest structural and stratigraphic levels of the Yukon-Tanana terrane and the structurally underlying parautochthonous North American margin rocks were metamorphosed at similar conditions (7.5 – 9 kbar; 600 – 680 °C) and share a common style of deformation, characterized by the transposition of lithologic contacts and primary compositional layering into a regional ductile foliation (ST) with at least one generation of intrafolial isoclinal folds. Equilibrium assemblage modeling and in situ U-Th-Pb SHRIMP dating of monazite are used to place quantitative constraints on the conditions and timing of deformation, metamorphism and subsequent decompression. These data reveal that these fabrics, and the associated metamorphism, did not develop during a single tectono-metamorphic event. Rather, ductile deformation and high-grade metamorphism developed diachronously. Rocks deformed and metamorphosed in the Permo-Triassic and Early Jurassic were exhumed in the Early Jurassic, while rocks to the northeast in the Finlayson domain were buried, heated and ductiley deformed at mid-crustal levels (~25 km depth) from the Middle Jurassic to Early Cretaceous (c. 169 – 142 Ma). Metamorphism continued at an even deeper crustal level (~ 30 km depth, as recorded in the Australia Mountain domain), propagating downward into the parautochthonous North American crust in the Early Cretaceous (c. 146 – 118 Ma). Together, these data reveal a spatial and temporal pattern of structurally downward younging deformation and metamorphism that corresponds with the foreland-directed growth of a critically tapered orogenic wedge. In this model, rocks in front of the wedge are episodically underthrust downward into a distributed, high-grade transposition shear zone at 25 to 30 kilometres depth near the base of the overriding wedge. Rocks previously underthrust, buried and metamorphosed are progressively exhumed to higher structural levels within the wedge, as the upper crust enters a state of extension in order to maintain a critically tapered wedge. Rocks that occupied the mid-crustal shear zone in the Middle Jurassic and Early Cretaceous (Finlayson and Australia Mountain domains) were exhumed in the mid-Cretaceous along southeast-directed (orogen-parallel) extensional faults, from beneath a supracrustal ‘lid’ that had previously been metamorphosed and ductiley deformed at amphibolite facies in the Permo-Triassic and Early Jurassic.
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Thesis advisor: Gibson, Dan
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