Tectonic and magmatic development of the Salinian Coast Ridge Belt, California

Steven Kidder, Mihai Ducea, George Gehrels, P. Jonathan Patchett, Jeffrey Vervoort

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

62 Scopus citations


We present new field, structural, petrographic, and geochronologic data on a rare midcrustal (∼25 km) exposure of a Cordilleran arc, the Coast Ridge Belt, located in the Santa Lucia Mountains of central California. The study area is composed primarily of a deformed suite of upper amphibolite to granulite facies rocks (the "Sur Series"), which is dominated by metaigneous tonalites, diorites, and gabbros with subordinate metasedimentary quartzite and marble. Inherited zircons in magmatic rocks suggest that the provenance of framework rocks is drawn heavily from miogeoclinal formations and that sedimentation occurred in the late Paleozoic or later. Minor magmatism in the Coast Ridge Belt began in the Early or Middle Cretaceous, but magmatic activity was most intense during a short period time from 93 to 81 Ma, based on U-Pb zircon ages of a felsic gneiss and two less-deformed diorites. The time period 93-81 Ma also brackets a period of extensive thickening and high-temperature ductile deformation. While a thrusting cause for ductile deformation cannot be ruled out, we favor the hypothesis that the exposed rocks correspond to a zone of return flow of supracrustal rocks locally displaced by granitoid plutons in the shallower crust. Magmatism ended throughout Salinia between 81 and 76 Ma, coincident with the attainment of peak pressure and temperature conditions of 0.75 GPa and 800°C. Exhumation followed immediately, bringing the Coast Ridge Belt to the surface within 8 My at a rate of at least 2-3 mm/yr. Exhumation was coincident with an episode of extensional collapse that has been documented elsewhere in the southern California arc during the early Laramide orogeny and that may be related to underthrusting of the forearc at that time.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)12-1 - 12-20
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 2003


  • Amphibolite-granulite
  • Coast Ridge Belt
  • Deep arc exposures
  • Salinia
  • Salinian block
  • Santa Lucia Mountains

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Geochemistry and Petrology


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