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Open Access Thesis

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Degree Program


Degree Type

Master of Science (M.S.)

Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded



The Mazatzal orogeny (1.66-1.60 Ga) is a key element of the tectonic evolution of the North American continent during the Proterozoic (Whitmeyer and Karlstrom, 2007). Recently, Mesoproterozoic detrital zircon grains (1.55-1.45 Ga) have been found in metasedimentary rocks that were thought to have been deformed during the Paleoproterozoic Mazatzal orogeny (Jones et al. 2011; Doe et al. 2012, 2013; Daniel et al. 2013). Some type examples Mazatzal deformation now seem to be too young to have been deformed in the accepted time of that orogeny (1.66-1.60 Ga) and may have been deformed in the younger, newly defined, Picuris orogeny. This leads to questions regarding the timing and nature of the Mazatzal orogeny and its importance in the evolution of the North American continent. The object of this research is to constrain the timing of deformation related to the Mazatzal and Picuris orogenies and clarify the Proterozoic history of the North American continent. The Four Peaks area in central Arizona has been selected as an ideal location to tightly constrain the timing of deformation. The area hosts a package of Proterozoic metasedimentary rocks that are folded into a kilometer-scale syncline, surrounded by vi Mesoproterozoic to Paleoproterozoic granitoids.

The Four Peaks syncline has been considered a type example of Mazatzal-age deformation (Karlstrom and Bowring, 1988). Zircon and monazite geochronology are presented along with structural and petrologic data in order to understand the geologic history of the Four Peaks area. The evidence suggests that three deformation events occurred at ~1675 Ma, 1665-1655 Ma and 1490-1450 Ma. Sedimentary deposition occurred 1665-1655 Ma and 1520-1490 Ma with a significant disconformity in between these episodes. Both the Mazatzal and Picuris orogenies can be associated with periods of deformation, sedimentary deposition and pluton emplacement. The most significant shortening event, which formed the Four Peaks syncline, occurred during Mesoproterozoic time and was related to the Picuris orogeny.


First Advisor

Michael L Williams