Metamorphic evolution of exhumed middle to lower crustal rocks in the Mojave Extensional Belt, southern California, USA

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The Waterman Metamorphic Complex of the central Mojave Desert was exposed as a consequence of early Miocene detachment‐dominated extension. However, it has evidence consistent with a more extensive geological history that involves collision of a crustal fragment(s), tectonic thickening by overthrusting and two periods of extension. The metamorphic complex contains granitoid intrusives and felsic mylonitic gneisses as well as polymetamorphic rocks that include marble, calc‐silicate, quartzite. mafic granulite, pyribolite, amphibolite, migmatite and biotite schist. The latter group of rocks was affected by an initial series of high‐grade metamorphic events (M1 and M2) and a localized lower grade overprint (M3). The initial metamorphism (M1) can be separated into two stages along its high‐grade P–T path: M1a, a granulite facies metamorphism at 800–850° C and 7.5–9 kbar and Mlb, an upper amphibolite facies overprint at 750–800° C and 10–12 kbar. M1a developed mineral assemblages and textures consistent with granulite facies conditions at a reduced activity of H2O and is associated with intense ductile deformation (D1) and minor local partial melting. M1b overprinted the granulite assemblages with a series of hydrous phases under conditions of increasing pressure and H2O activity and is accompanied by little or no deformation. M2 developed at lower pressures and temperatures (650–750° C, 4.5–5.5 kbar) and is distinguished by a second local overprint of hydrous phases that reflects an input of aqueous fluids probably associated with the intrusion of a series of granitic dykes and veins. Effects of M3 are confined to the Mitchel detachment zone, an anastomosing early Miocene detachment fault, and are characterized by local ductile/brittle deformation (D2) of the pre‐existing high‐grade rocks and granitoid intrusives and by the production of mylonites and mylonitic gneisses under greenschist facies conditions (300–350° C, 3–5 kbar). The initial overprint (M1a) represents metamorphism, devolatilization and minor partial melting of supracrustal rocks under granulite facies conditions as a consequence of tectonic and, possibly, magmatic thickening. The increasing pressure transition of M1a to M1b reflects a period of continued compressional tectonism, thrusting and influx of H2O, in part, locally related to crystallization of partial melts. The near isothermal decompression between M1b and M2 probably represents a pre‐112‐Ma extensional episode that may have been the result of a decompressional readjustment of a thickened crust. Following the initial extensional event, the metamorphic complex remained at depths of 10–17 km for at least 90 Ma until it was uplifted following Miocene extension. M3 develops locally in response to this second extensional period resulting from the early Miocene detachment faulting. Copyright © 1992, Wiley Blackwell. All rights reserved

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Journal of Metamorphic Geology

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