Protolith age and deformation history of high grade metamorphic rocks from the roots of a continental magmatic arc: the Central Gneiss Complex, British Columbia, Canada
Wednesday, 17 December 2014
The Central Gneiss Complex, located in western British Columbia, preserves mid and lower crustal igneous and metasedimentary rocks that yield insight into deformational and thermal processes at the roots of a continental magmatic arc. The complex primarily consists of gneiss interpreted as a volcanic sequence with calcareous interlayers and lesser clastic metasedimentary rocks. Cretaceous U-Pb zircon ages from granulite-facies equivalent rocks in the core of the complex hint at rapid burial following deposition. However, a Permian or older crinoid fossil found in one locality (Hill, 1985) requires the presence of some late Paleozoic or early Mesozoic material. A new U-Pb zircon age (313±5 Ma; LA-ICPMS) from ~10 km west of this fossil locality is interpreted to record volcanism. We also conducted focused structural and geochronological analysis at higher structural levels in the northeastern Central Gneiss Complex to positively identify sedimentary lithologies with which to document the early structural history of the complex prior to early Cenozoic rapid exhumation. In this area, a subhorizontal shear zone forms the boundary between mainly clastic metasedimentary rocks and the widespread metavolcanic and carbonate rocks where an important stretched pebble conglomerate has been previously documented. In the footwall of the shear zone, flattening fabrics transition structurally upward into E-W trending stretching lineations, lineation-parallel isoclinal fold axes, and boudinage that record E-W stretching and major shear strain near the contact. S-C fabrics and shear bands yield a top to the east sense of shear. Where observed, a shallowly dipping, ~15 m thick zone of cataclasite forms the lithologic contact and overprints the shear zone. Sills and dikes record ongoing but localized magmatism throughout deformation and steep NE striking brittle normal faults crosscut all features. Ongoing work will further constrain the protolith age of these rocks, the timing of deformation, and whether the shear zone is a folded low angle normal fault or instead related to regional thrust burial. This will yield insight into sediment burial and metamorphism at subduction zones and its potential influence on magmatic arc productivity and middle and lower crustal deformation processes.