Contrasting cratonal provenances for upper Cretaceous Valle Group quartzite clasts, Baja California

David L. Kimbrough, Patrick L. Abbott, Marty Grove, Douglas P. Smith, J. Brian Mahoney, Thomas E. Moore, George E. Gehrels

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Late Cretaceous Valle Group forearcbasin deposits on the Vizcaino Peninsula of Baja California Sur are dominated by firstcycle arc-derived volcanic-plutonic detritus derived from the adjacent Peninsular Ranges batholith. Craton-derived quartzite clasts are a minor but ubiquitous component in Valle Group conglomerates. The source of these clasts has implications for tectonic reconstructions and sediment-dispersal paths along the paleo-North American margin. Three strongly contrasting types of quartzite are recognized based on petrology and detrital zircon U-Pb geochronology. The first type is ultramature quartz arenite with well-rounded, highly spherical zircon grains. Detrital zircon ages from this type are nearly all >1.8 Ga with age distributions that closely match the distinctive Middle-Late Ordovician Peace River arch detrital signature of the Cordilleran margin. This type has been previously recognized from prebatholithic rocks in northeast Baja California (San Felipe quartzite). A second quartzite type is subarkosic sandstone with strong affinity to southwestern North America; important features of the age spectra are ~1.0-1.2 Ga, 1.42 and 1.66 Ga peaks representing cratonal basement, 500-300 Ma grains interpreted as recycled Appalachian-derived grains, and 284- 232 Ma zircon potentially derived from the Early Permian-Middle Triassic east Mexico arc. This quartzite type could have been carried to the continental margin during Jurassic time as outboard equivalents of Colorado Plateau eolianites. The third quartzite type is quartz pebble conglomerate with significant ~900- 1400 Ma and ~450-650 Ma zircon components, as well as mid- and late Paleozoic grains. The source of this type of quartzite is more problematic but could match either upper Paleozoic strata in the Oaxaca terrane of southern Mexico or a southwestern North America source. The similarity of detrital zircon spectra in all three Valle Group quartzite types to rocks of the adjacent Cordilleran margin support previous interpretations that Valle Group forearc basin sediments were deposited in proximity to rocks on the mainland of northwest Mexico and southwestern United States.
Original languageAmerican English
JournalPacific Section SEPM
StatePublished - 2006


  • Geochemistry
  • Geology

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