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Polyphase structural mapping and mineral age dating across the Salmon River suture zone in west-central Idaho (Riggins region; ∼45°30′N, ∼117°W–116°W) support a late Mesozoic history of penetrative deformation, dynamothermal metamorphism, and intermittent magmatism in response to right-oblique oceanic-continental plate convergence (Farallon–North America). High-strain linear-planar tectonite fabrics are recorded along an unbroken ∼48 km west-to-east transect extending from the Snake River (Wallowa intra-oceanic arc terrane; eastern Blue Mountains Province) over the northern Seven Devils Mountains into the lower Salmon River Canyon (ancestral North America; western Laurentia). Given the temporally overlapping nature (ca. 145–90 Ma) of east-west contraction in the Sevier fold-and-thrust belt (northern Utah–southeast Idaho–southwest Montana segment), we propose that long-term terrane accretion and margin-parallel northward translation in the Cordilleran hinterland (∼41°N–46°N latitude; modern coordinates) drove mid- to upper-crustal shortening >250 km eastward into the foreland region (∼115°W–113°W). During accretion and translation, the progressive transfer of arc assemblages from subducting (Farallon) to structurally overriding (North American) plates was accommodated by displacement along a shallow westward-dipping basal décollement system underlying the Cordilleran orogen. In this context, large-magnitude horizontal shortening of passive continental margin strata was balanced by the addition of buoyant oceanic crust—late Paleozoic to Mesozoic Blue Mountains Province—to the leading edge of western Laurentia. Consistent with orogenic float modeling (mass conservation, balance, and displacement compatibility), diffuse dextral-transpressional deformation across the accretionary boundary (Salmon River suture: Cordilleran hinterland) was kinematically linked to eastward-propagating structures on the continental interior (Sevier thrust belt; Cordilleran foreland). As an alternative to noncollisional convergent margin orogenesis, we propose a collision-related tectonic origin and contractional evolution for central portions of the Sevier belt. Our timing of terrane accretion supports correlation of the Wallowa terrane with Wrangellia (composite arc/plateau assemblage) and implies diachronous south-to-north suturing and basin closure between Idaho and Alaska.

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Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License