New apatite and zircon fission-track and apatite (U-Th)/He data from nine samples collected on a north-south transect across the southern Sierra Nevada–eastern Tehachapi Mountains constrain the cooling and exhumation history over the past ∼70 m.y. The four northernmost samples yielded zircon and apatite fission-track ages of ca. 70 Ma, indicating rapid cooling from ∼250 °C to <60 °C (6–8 km of exhumation) at that time. Four of the five southernmost samples yielded slightly younger zircon fission-track ages (57–46 Ma) and apatite fission-track ages (21–18 Ma); the fifth southern sample (from a lower elevation) yielded an apatite fission-track age of ca. 11 Ma. Eight of the nine samples yielded apatite (U-Th)/He ages; these ranged from 60 to 9 Ma, with the youngest ages from the southernmost samples. Inverse thermal history models developed from the data reveal two major stages of cooling for the area, with an initial major cooling event ending at ca. 70 Ma, followed by 50 m.y. of thermal stasis and a second major cooling event beginning at 20 Ma and continuing to the present. The data are consistent with northward-directed tilting and exhumation beginning at 20 Ma, probably as the result of north-south extension in the Mojave Desert on an early strand of the Garlock fault with down-to-the-south offset. A third minor phase of rapid exhumation beginning at ca. 10 Ma is suggested by the data; this may indicate the beginning of left-lateral slip on the Garlock fault.
- Received 27 July 2012.
- Revision received 17 January 2013.
- Accepted 2 March 2013.
- © 2013 Geological Society of America