Marine Volcaniclastic Record of Early Arc Evolution in the Eastern Ritter Range Pendant, Central Sierra Nevada, California

A. P. Barth, J. L. Wooden, N. R. Riggs, J. D. Walker, K. Tani, S. C. Penniston-Dorland, C. E. Jacobson, J. A. Laughlin, R. Hiramatsu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Marine volcaniclastic rocks in the Sierra Nevada preserve a critical record of silicic magmatism in the early Sierra Nevada volcanic arc, and this magmatic record provides precise minimum age constraints on subduction inception and tectonic evolution of the early Mesozoic Cordilleran convergent margin at this latitude. New zircon Pb/U ages from the Ritter Range pendant and regional correlations indicate arc inception no later than mid-Triassic time between 37°N and 38°N. The regional first-order felsic magma eruption rate as recorded by marine volcanic arc rocks was episodic, with distinct pulses of ignimbrite emplacement at ca. 221–216 and 174–167 Ma. Ignimbrites range from dacite to rhyolite in bulk composition, and are petrographically similar to modern arc-type, monotonous intermediate dacite or phenocryst-poor, low-silica rhyolite. Zircon trace element geochemistry indicates that Jurassic silicic melts were consistently Ti-enriched and light rare earth-enriched and U-depleted in comparison to Triassic melts of the juvenile arc, suggesting Jurassic silicic melts were hotter, drier, and derived from distinct lithospheric sources not tapped in the juvenile stage of arc construction. Pulses of ignimbrite deposition were coeval with granodioritic to granitic components of the underlying early Mesozoic Sierra Nevada batholith, suggesting explosive silicic volcanism and batholith construction were closely coupled at 1–2 million-year time scales.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2543-2559
Number of pages17
JournalGeochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2018


  • sedimentary geochronology
  • volcanic arcs
  • zircon geochemistry

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Geochemistry and Petrology


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