Thermochronologic data define the extension and exhumation history of the Anaconda metamorphic core complex and have implications for the Eocene tectonic setting of the northern Rocky Mountains. The 40Ar/39Ar data indicate that relatively rapid extension on the Anaconda detachment started at ca. 53 Ma and continued through ca. 39 Ma. Apatite fission-track data reveal that faulting and exhumation of the footwall continued until ca. 27 Ma. The average displacement rate on the Anaconda detachment was on the order of 1 mm/yr between ca. 50 and 39 Ma based on the lateral gradient in mica 40Ar/39Ar ages in the direction of fault slip. The total displacement along the Anaconda detachment in Eocene and Oligocene times is estimated to be ≥25–28 km based on reconstruction of the Cretaceous Storm Lake Stock with its detached roof, which is now exposed in the Deer Lodge Valley. Extension exhumed crust from ∼12 km depth and exposed middle-greenschist-facies mylonites in the easternmost part of the Anaconda complex footwall. On a regional scale, the Anaconda detachment dips east beneath the Cretaceous Boulder batholith, indicating that the batholith and the Butte mineralization were transported east in the hanging wall. The Anaconda metamorphic core complex formed at the transition between the Cordilleran hinterland and the foreland at the same time as extension occurred in the Bitterroot and Priest River metamorphic core complexes but exhumed a shallower part of the Eocene crustal section than the contemporaneous complexes to the west.
- Received 17 December 2009.
- Revision received 23 April 2010.
- Accepted 26 April 2010.
- © 2010 Geological Society of America