Birth of the Sierra Nevada magmatic arc: Early Mesozoic plutonism and volcanism in the east-central Sierra Nevada of California

A. P. Barth, J. D. Walker, J. L. Wooden, N. R. Riggs, R. A. Schweickert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

52 Scopus citations


Granitic and volcanic rocks in the eastcentral Sierra Nevada, western United States, record the earliest stages of magmatism in the eastern Sierra Nevada magmatic arc, allowing us to examine magma sources and connections between plutonic and volcanic processes in the initial stages of arc construction. The Scheelite Intrusive Suite is one of the largest in the Sierra Nevada region, and is composed of the Wheeler Crest Granodiorite, granite of Lee Vining Canyon, and Pine Creek Granite. The Pb/U zircon ages from each unit of the suite suggest assembly between 226 and 218 Ma. The Scheelite Intrusive Suite is a high-K calcic or calc-alkalic suite, compositionally broadly similar to the nearby Late Cretaceous Tuolumne and John Muir Intrusive Suites, though plutons of the Scheelite Intrusive Suite are consistently Ca and Fe rich and lower in Na. Although Triassic granodiorites are isotopically quite similar to nearby Late Cretaceous intrusive suites, the trend toward more isotopically primitive granites is in contrast to the constant or more whole-rock radiogenic Sr trends observed in younger intrusive suites. Along the western margin of the Scheelite Intrusive Suite, the basal Mesozoic volcanic section in the Saddlebag Lake pendant includes silicic volcanic rocks that are in part coeval and potentially comagmatic with Triassic plutonic rocks. Widespread quartz-phyric ash-flow tuffs of Black Mountain, Saddlebag Lake, and Greenstone Lake yield Pb/U zircon ages of 232, 224, and 219 Ma, indicating that felsic ignimbrite volcanism commenced earlier and continued during emplacement of the 226- 218 Ma Scheelite Intrusive Suite. Ash-flow tuffs are hydrothermally altered but have high field strength element abundances and Nd isotopic compositions, suggesting affinity to the relatively felsic parts of the Wheeler Crest Granodiorite and the granite of Lee Vining Canyon.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)877-897
Number of pages21
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geology
  • Stratigraphy


Dive into the research topics of 'Birth of the Sierra Nevada magmatic arc: Early Mesozoic plutonism and volcanism in the east-central Sierra Nevada of California'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this