GSA Connects 2022 meeting in Denver, Colorado

Paper No. 27-6
Presentation Time: 9:00 AM-1:00 PM


CLARK, Nolan1, FRAZER, Ryan, PhD2, MCCARTY, Kyle1, DAVIES, Gareth R.3 and LACKEY, Jade Star1, (1)Department of Geology, Pomona College, Claremont, CA 91711, (2)Geosciences and Environmental Change Science Center, U.S. Geological Survey, PO Box 25046 MS 980, Denver, CO 80225, (3)Vrije Universiteit, De Boelelaan 1085, Amsterdam, 1081 HV, Netherlands

The Sierra Nevada Batholith (SNB) records copious Mesozoic magmatism and is an important touchstone for understanding crustal growth at continental convergent margins. Recent research in the SNB has focused on defining magmatic cyclicity and arc “flare ups” based on the ages, magma production rates, and radiogenic isotope heterogeneities of the plutonic and volcanic rocks found throughout the batholith. Two main intervals at ca. 170–148 Ma and ca. 125–85 Ma delivered >95% of the magmas in the exposed plutonic bulk in the SNB and suggest elevated emplacement rates and hotter-than-usual magmas, though the Cretaceous is by far the most productive era and the most promising for understanding the factors modulating magmatic flux. The mid-Cretaceous of the Sierra (ca. 105–98 Ma) saw the appearance of conspicuous, high-silica (>65 wt.% SiO2; average ~71%) granitic plutons of similar chemical nature that span a large geographic area, breaking the well-established west-to-east “younging” trend found in the more common rocks of intermediate compositions. This study focuses on thirteen of these high-silica granites: the Bullfrog, Independence, McGann, Rawson Creek, and Spook Plutons of the eastern Sierra; and the Shaver Intrusive Suite, Grant Grove, Case Mountain, Coyote Pass, Dennison Peak, and Frys Point Plutons of the western/central Sierra. Whole rock geochemistry, zircon trace elements, and radiogenic isotope ratios (Sr and Nd) in these high-silica granites show some transitional patterns with other contemporaneous and geographically related plutons of intermediate compositions, suggesting fractionation trajectories; however, some distinct dissimilarities are observed, including: 1) elevated, but highly varied initial 87Sr/86Sr ratios, 2) elevated fluorine in granites, and 3) hotter apparent zircon saturation conditions. These geochemical data, hotter conditions, and higher flux suggest that mantle conditions favored more crustal melting and crustal source input than at any other time in the Cretaceous. We conclude that the granitic outburst of the mid-Cretaceous was a flare up like no other.