Metamorphic and stratigraphic constraints on the evolution of the Santa Catalina Mountains Metamorphic Core Complex, Arizona


  • David G. Palais,

  • Simon M. Peacock


Contact metamorphic mineral assemblages in the Santa Catalina Mountains metamorphic core complex constrain the emplacement depth of the metaluminous Late Cretaceous Leatherwood quartz diorite to between 7.5 and 14 km (2–3.8 kbar). The peraluminous Eocene Wilderness granite is constrained to have been emplaced at depths of less than 14 km. Stratigraphic and tectonic considerations are consistent with emplacement of both the Leatherwood quartz diorite and Wilderness granite at upper crustal levels. Published igneous thermobarometry (Anderson et al., 1988), although in approximate agreement with the metamorphic and tectonostratigraphic estimates for the depth of emplacement of the Wilderness granite, suggests that the Leatherwood quartz diortite was emplaced at depths of ∼21 km (5.6 kbar) or greater. The discrepancy between the different emplacement estimates may reflect ambiguities associated with interpretations of the results from each technique. Igneous barometric assemblages may reflect conditions experienced during a period of crystallization during ascent of the magma through the crust (i.e., ponding of the magma). Alternatively, emplacement of the voluminous Wilderness granite and associated plutons may have entirely overprinted earlier Leatherwood-related contact metamorphism. The proposed upper crustal emplacement of the Leatherwood quartz diorite is consistent with the observation that Lararrade-age crustal thickening in southeast Arizona probably did not exceed 8 km.