Petrological and geochronological constraints on regional metamorphism along the northern border of the Bitterroot batholith

M. A. House, K. V. Hodges, S. A. Bowring

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Quantitative thermobarometry in pelites and garnet amphibolites from the Bitterroot metamorphic core complex, combined with U-Pb dating of metamorphic monazite and zircon from footwall rocks, provide new constraints on the P-T-t evolution of footwall rocks. The thermobarometric and geochronological results, when correlated with observations from other regions bordering the Bitterroot batholith, define a regional metamorphic history for the northern margin of the Bitterroot batholith consisting of three distinct events beginning with early prograde metamorphism (M1) coincident with arc-related magmatism and crustal shortening at c. 100-80 Ma. Magmatism and crustal thickening led to regional upper-amphibolite facies metamorphism (M2) and anatectic melting between 64 and 56 Ma. Mineral textures related to high-temperature isothermal decompression (M3), coincident with late stages of magmatism in the Bitterroot complex footwall (56-48 Ma), are only preserved in areas adjacent to extensional structures. The close temporal relationship between peak metamorphism and the onset of footwall decompression indicates that thermal weakening was an important factor in the initiation of Early Eocene regional extension and tectonic denudation of the Bitterroot complex and possibly the Boehls Butte metamorphic terrane. The morphology of the decompressional P-T-t path derived for Bitterroot footwall rocks is similar to other trajectories reported for Cordilleran core complexes and may represent a transition in the deformational style of core-bunding detachments responsible for exhumation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)753-764
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Metamorphic Geology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 1997
Externally publishedYes


  • Bitterroot
  • Boehls Butte
  • Core complex
  • Thermobarometry

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geology
  • Geochemistry and Petrology


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