The tectonic setting of a transcontinental belt of 1500–1300 Ma granitic intrusions that extends from southern California to Labrador is controversial; however, the granites are conventionally considered to be “anorogenic.” Detailed field, microstructural, and geochronologic data from the 1425 Ma Beer Bottle Pass pluton, southern Nevada, indicate that major mylonite zones recording dextral‐contractile strains were probably active during and/or shortly after pluton emplacement and suggest that the anorogenic interpretation for this pluton requires reevaluation. Mylonite zones up to 100 m thick strike northeast, dip moderately northwest, and contain a consistent west plunging elongation lineation. Mylonites occur along 15% of the exposed granite‐wall rock contact and extend into both the pluton and the wall rock. Mesoscopic and microscopic kinematic indicators record an oblique, dextral/reverse (pluton side down) movement sense. Synkinematic mineral assemblages of hornblende and biotite and dynamic recrystallization of feldspars suggest that deformation occurred minimally under amphibolite facies conditions. A K/Ar biotite date of 1399±32 Ma, obtained from a sample of mylonitic granite, suggests that deformation took place during or soon following pluton crystallization. We reject forcible emplacement of the Beer Bottle Pass pluton as a mechanism for formation of the mylonite zones because (1) rocks near the granite‐wall rock contact are largely unstrained, (2) the mylonite zones conform only locally to the pluton‐wall rock contact, (3) mylonite zones strike at high angles to, and truncate, the intrusive pluton‐wall rock contact, (4) the pluton‐side‐down shear sense is more compatible with a uniform sense simple shear zone than a forcibly intruding pluton, and (5) fabrics indicative of noncoaxial deformation dominate over flattening fabrics. We suggest that the Beer Bottle Pass pluton is fundamentally synkinematic with respect to either (1) a local, contractile deformational event or (2) regional strains produced by distant plate tectonic processes operative between 1500 and 1300 Ma as suggested by Nyman and Karlstrom (1994). The timing and kinematics of shear zones associated with other circa 1400 Ma plutons in the western United States (e.g., Graubard and Mattinson, 1990; Nyman et al., 1994; Kirby et al., this issue) support the latter interpretation. Our kinematic data are more consistent with a contractile or transpressive tectonic setting at circa 1400 Ma (Nyman and Karlstrom, 1994; Nyman et al, 1994) than with models involving regional extension (e.g., Windley, 1993).
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Geochemistry and Petrology