Metamorphic core complexes in the southeastern Canadian Cordillera were formed during Eocene crustal extension, shortly (within a few millions of years) after Late Jurassic‐Paleocene crustal shortening. Thermal‐rheological modeling, constrained by geological and geochronological studies of the Valhalla core complex and other core complexes in this region, is used to investigate two major problems concerning the formation of these core complexes: (1) the dynamic links between crustal shortening and extension and (2) the cooling history and unroofing rates during extension. Thermal‐rheological effects associated with crustal shortening are integrated through the history of crustal compression, since crustal shortening in this region was a long and slow process and cannot be treated as an instantaneous event. Our results suggest that crustal shortening may have played an important role in Eocene extension in the southeastern Canadian Cordillera by (1) producing a thickened and therefore unstable crust and (2) thermally weakening the lithosphere. However, heat generated by crustal shortening is not enough to account for the thermal state of the Valhalla complex, and additional heat sources at depth may be necessary. We then investigate thermal evolution during extension in both a simple shear model and a progressive pure stretching model. We show that the geotherm in an extensional region is time‐and space‐dependent and is affected by many variables including the preextensional thermal history and the mode of extension. Thus caution needs to be exercised when inferring unroofing rates from thermochronologic data. The cooling history of the Valhalla core complex may be explained by unroofing at rates of 1–2 mm/yr.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Geochemistry and Petrology