Paleomagnetism of Jurassic Rocks in the Western Sierra Nevada Metamorphic Belt and its Bearing on the Structural Evolution of the Sierra Nevada Block

Bogen, Nicholas L.; Kent, Dennis V.; Schweickert, Richard A.

The western metamorphic belt of the Sierra Nevada consists of two eugeosynclinal terranes separated by the Melones and Sonora faults. Subvertical, bedded Mesozoic volcanic rocks metamorphosed to low greenschist facies predominate to the west, whereas Paleozoic metamorphic rocks of higher grade and greater structural complexity predominate to the east. In order to study the structural development of the faults, 121 samples of basalt and diabase were collected for paleomagnetic analysis from three Jurassic formations, the Logtown Ridge and Penon Blanco formations west of the Melones fault and the Sonora dike swarm to the east of the Sonora fault. A northwesterly, downward directed magnetization occurs in each unit. Three fold tests and a conglomerate test on the two formations west of the faults show that the magnetization is secondary, postdating Nevadan (Late Jurassic) folding and is probably coeval with peak metamorphism. An average of five paleomagnetic poles from the Sierra Nevada, three derived from the secondary magnetizations given herein and two previously published, all of probable Kimmeridgian age, yields λ′=67.2°N, ϕ′=161.2°E, and α95 =6.5°. Southeasterly magnetizations also occur in the Logtown Ridge Formation and Sonora dike swarm. Directions from the Sonora dikes are approximately antipodal to the secondary directions and are reversed; magnetizations from the Logtown Ridge Formation yield similar results only if corrected for the tilt of bedding. The Logtown Ridge magnetizations (tilt-corrected) yield a pole position near to that expected for North America. The data from the Sonora dikes require a tilt correction of 25°-30° toward the south-southwest about a horizontal axis parallel to the regional structure in order to yield a North American pole position. We conclude that the eastern wall rocks of the Melones and Sonora faults have been rotated 25°-30° in response to Nevadan deformation in contrast to the western wall rocks, which have been rotated about 90°.

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Journal of Geophysical Research

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Academic Units
Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory
Biology and Paleo Environment
Published Here
August 30, 2011