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

9 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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