Articles | Volume 8, issue 2
Research article
30 Mar 2017
Research article |  | 30 Mar 2017

Structural and rheological evolution of the Laramide subduction channel in southern California

Haoran Xia and John P. Platt

Abstract. The Pelona Schist in the San Gabriel Mountains, southern California, formed in the Laramide subduction channel, exhibits multiple phases of deformation/metamorphism and provides valuable insights into the rheological properties of the subduction channel. Petrological and microstructural analysis indicates that the Pelona Schist has undergone three major deformational/metamorphic events. Subduction of volcanic and sedimentary protoliths during D1 was recorded by aligned mineral inclusions in albite and epidote porphyroblasts. Metamorphic temperature and pressure at the end of subduction yielded by Raman spectroscopy of carbonaceous material and phengite barometry were 519 ± 20 °C and 10.5 ± 0.4 kbar, respectively. During D1 the dominant deformation mechanism was quartz pressure solution, and the estimated shear stress at the end of D1 was less than 10 MPa. D2, the first stage exhumation of the Pelona Schist along the upper section of the subduction channel during return flow, was recorded by retrogressive metamorphism, isoclinal folding, and a pervasive schistosity that wraps around earlier porphyroblasts. Metagreywacke was deformed mainly by quartz pressure solution and metachert was deformed dominantly by dislocation creep during D2. The shear stress in metagreywacke was less than 10 MPa and that in metachert was between 8.3 + 2.7/− 1.5 and 12.9 + .9/− 2.3 MPa, resulting in a strain rate of 1.4  ×  10−13 to 5.5  ×  10−13 s−1. A topography driven model is proposed as the main driving force of D2 exhumation. D3 records normal-sense movement on the Vincent Fault, which separates the schist from overlying arc and continental basement. This resulted in the second stage of exhumation, creating a major synform and associated mylonitic fabric in the upper section of the Pelona Schist. Conditions at the beginning of D3 were 390 ± 13 °C and 5.8 ± 0.8 kbar given by the TitaniQ thermometer and phengite geobarometer. The deformation was dominated by quartz dislocation creep with a strain rate of 4.5 ± 1.2  ×  10−13 s−1 at a shear stress of 20.1 + 7.3/− 4.0 MPa.

Short summary
We investigated the Pelona Schist, an exhumed subduction complex in southern California associated with the Laramide subduction in Late Cretaceous–Paleocene. Based on field, microstructural and petrologic analyses, we established the deformational and metamorphic history of the Pelona Schist and discussed the exhumation process. Then we presented the rheological properties and deformation mechanisms of the Pelona Schist during each phase of deformation.