Dating the Tertiary evolution of the Albion-Raft River- Grouse Creek Metamorphic Core Complex

Konstantinou, Strickland, Miller, Wooden

View to the south from the Albion Mountains, Idaho, to the Raft River range, Utah.

The Albion-Raft River-Grouse Creek metamorphic core complex (ARGMCC) is located in southern Idaho and northern Utah. The rocks exposed there preserve Late Eocene to Oligocene plutonism, extension, and high-grade metamorphism at mid-crustal levels. Exhumation of these rocks along low-angle mylonite zones and high-angle normal faults occurred in the Miocene.  The ARGMCC is bordered to the north by Miocene volcanics of the Snake River Plain, and lies on the northern edge of the Basin and Range province. 


 Almo pluton

 Low clouds over the Albion Mountains and the Almo pluton, City of Rocks National Preserve.

In the Albion Mountains, the scenic spires and monoliths of the 30 Ma Almo pluton were an important landmark for California-bound emigrants in the mid-1800's. Today it is an international rock-climbing mecca as the City of Rocks National Preserve.  



Zircon U-Pb ages and Ti thermometry


Zircons from the Almo pluton show evidence of inheritance both from a long-lived magmatic system (antecrysts) and from a Late Archean crustal source. Crystallization age for the Almo pluton is given by the outer rims at 30.4 ± 0.2 Ma. Low temperatures given by measured Ti in zircon from Oligocene rims of 618-701 degrees C plus the abundant zircon inheritance suggest low-temperature, likely hydrous crustal melting.




SHRIMP-RG zircon U-Pb ages and Ti thermometry from the Almo pluton. 










In the Albion and Grouse Creek Mountains, the country rocks to the Oligocene plutons reach peak metamorphic grade during intrusion and preserve extensional-sense deformation along the Middle Mountain shear zone. Garnet-staurolite-sillimanite-biotite assemblages are common in pelitic rocks, and sillimanite helps to define the lineation  (upper left). Late stage pegmatites (upper right, in quartzite) are often boudinaged.


Schist of Stevens Springs











 Using the SHRIMP-RG at Stanford University, monazites from the country rocks to the 28 Ma Vipoint pluton were analyzed. Monazites grains from a psammitc schist contain  patchy zonation and grains with 140 Ma cores and Oligocene overgrowths. Detrital zircons from the same unit have narrow metamorphic rims that are ca. 140-110 Ma. This suggests that Oligocene metamorphism locally overprinted a late Cretaceous event.


The Albion-Raft River-Grouse Creek metamorphic core complex is a fantastic natural laboratory! We've had several great field trips and introduced many people to the beauty of the ARG.

2005: Camping in the Grouse Creek Mountains




2006: Field class group picture in the ghostown of NAF, Idaho. Near the Raft River Range.



Field trip

2007: Field trip to the ARGMCC and Ruby Range.


 ELM and AS

2008: Two geologists and the Twin Sisters rock formation, City of Rocks. Elizabeth Miller and Ariel Strickland ponder the similarities of a 2.5 Ga granite spire (left) and its twin sister made from the 30 Ma Almo pluton.


Some recent publications:

2013 Konstantinou, A., Strickland, A., Miller, E.L., Vervoort, J., Fisher, C.M, Wooden, J. and Valley, J., 2013, Synextensional magmatism leading to crustal flow in the Albion-Raft River-Grouse Creek metamorphic core complex, northeastern Basin and Range, Tectonics, v. 32, 1-20, doi:10.1002/text.20085,2013.

2013 Konstantinou, A., Valley, J., Strickland, A., Miller, E.L., Fisher, C.,Vervoort, J. and Wooden, J., 2013, Geochemistry and geochronology of the Jim Sage volcanic suite, southern Idaho:  Implications for Snake River Plain magmatism and its role in the history of Basin and Range extension, Geopshere doi:10.1130/GES00948.1

2012 Miller, E.L., Konstantinou, A. and Strickland, A., 2012, Comment on, “Geodynamics of syn-convergent extension and tectonic mode switching:  Constraints from the Sevier-Laramide orogen” by Michael L. Wells et al., Tectonics, v. 31, TC4015, doi:10.1029/2012TC003103.

2012 Konstantinou, A., Strickland, A., Miller, E.L. and Wooden, J.P., 2012, Multistage Cenozoic extension of the Albion-Raft River-Grouse Creek metamorphic core complex:  Geochronologic and stratigraphic constraints, Geosphere, doi: 10.1130/GES00778.

2011 Strickland, A., Miller, E.L., and Wooden, J.,Kozdon, R. and Valley, J.W., Syn-extensional crustal melting and plutonism in the Albion-Raft River-Grouse Creek metamorphic core complex, American Journal of Science v. 311, no.4m 261-314.

2011 Strickland, A., Miller, E.L. and Wooden, J., The timing of Tertiary metamophism and deformation in the Albion-Raft River-Grouse Creek metamorphic core complex, Utah and Idaho, Journal of Geology v. 119, p. 185-206.