The ∼400 km wide, east-verging, retrowedge side of the southeastern Canadian Cordillera was predominantly formed in a tectonic setting of oblique plate convergence during the Cretaceous to Eocene. This paper documents the internal geometrical development of the retrowedge. In the External zone, the Rocky Mountains and Foothills are characterized by three major east-verging, Late Cretaceous to Eocene, thin-skinned, piggyback thrust and fold systems. They root westward into a basal décollement and accommodated ∼180 km of shortening. The Western Internal zone is characterized by tracts of metamorphic rocks and metamorphic core complexes (e.g. Kettle, Okanagan, Priest River and Valhalla), some of which are basement-cored domes (e.g. Frenchman Cap, Thor-Odin, and Spokane). They have a downward-younging progression of Late Cretaceous to Eocene metamorphism and deformation in infrastructural flow zones characterized by transposition foliation, migmatites, flow folds and 1-7 km thick shear zones. In the Eastern Internal zone, a relict ∼100-200 km wide Early Cretaceous orogen, that predated emplacement of ca. 100 Ma plutons, is nested between the External and Western Internal zones. The geology and architecture of the Internal and External zones can be explained by progressive development of major Late Cretaceous to Eocene shear zone systems in the Internal zone that can be directly linked with coeval thrust and fold systems in the External zone. The linkage was via Late Cretaceous activation and Late Cretaceous to Early Eocene reactivation of the 150-200 km-wide central portion of the Rocky Mountain basal décollement that lies beneath and translated the intervening Early Cretaceous orogen. During the latest stages of shortening, in the Early Eocene, extensional shear zone systems in the Internal zone, localized on tectonothermal culminations, were concomitant with shortening in the External zone. Motion of deep-seated Early Eocene décollements beneath some of these culminations may have contributed to their doming. Crustal shortening ended at ca. 52 Ma due to a change in tectonic setting to that of a transtensional tectonic regime, coinciding with the end of thrusting in the External thrust belt and with crustal-scale extension in the Western Internal zone.

Additional Metadata
Keywords Basal décollement, Canadian Cordillera, Domes, Mid-crustal flow, Retrowedge, Shear zones, Thrust systems
Persistent URL dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jsg.2011.06.001
Journal Journal of Structural Geology
Citation
Simony, P.S. (Philip S.), & Carr, S. (2011). Cretaceous to Eocene evolution of the southeastern Canadian Cordillera: Continuity of Rocky Mountain thrust systems with zones of "in-sequence" mid-crustal flow. Journal of Structural Geology, 33(9), 1417–1434. doi:10.1016/j.jsg.2011.06.001