Eocene extension and meteoric fluid flow in the wildhorse detachment, pioneer metamorphic core complex, Idaho

R. R. McFadden, A. Mulch, C. Teyssier, M. Heizler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


The relationship between microstructure and fluid flow traced by hydrogen isotope ratios (δD) is examined within the Wildhorse detachment system of the Pioneer metamorphic core complex in south-central Idaho. Within the detachment footwall, 100-m-thick mylonitic quartzite containing minor white mica and K-feldspar displays a NW-trending stretching lineation and consistent top-to-the-NW sense of shear criteria. Microstructures within the detachment footwall comprise two groups: quartz ribbons and relict quartz grains flattened within the foliation, with porphyroclastic white mica fish; and intensely deformed and recrystallized quartz with high-aspect-ratio white mica arranged within C' shear bands. White mica dD values are highly negative and cluster around -145‰ in high-aspect-ratio white mica and around -120‰ in porphyroclastic white mica fish. The most negative values are interpreted to reflect interaction with meteoric fluids from a high-elevation catchment (3000-4000 m), and the less negative values are interpreted to represent incomplete hydrogen isotope exchange between the meteoric fluid and the pre-extensional metamorphic fluid dD values in the white mica porphyroclasts. A suite of tightly clustered 40Ar/39Ar ages from synkinematic white mica in the detachment footwall dates deformation, recrystallization, fluid-rock interaction, and therefore the presence of high topography at 38-37 Ma; these ages are consistent with the cooling/exhumation history of the high-grade core of the Pioneer metamorphic core complex in the late Eocene. The 38-37 Ma 40Ar/39Ar ages are substantially younger than previously published ages of high topography in British Columbia to the north (49-47 Ma), in line with the hypothesis that high topography propagated from north to south in the northern segment of the North American Cordillera through Eocene time.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)355-366
Number of pages12
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 23 2015

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© Geological Society of America.


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