Detrital zircon data from the upper parts of the Proterozoic Hess Canyon Group of southern Arizona reveal abundant 1600-1488 Ma detrital zircons, which represent ages essentially unknown from southern Laurentia. This basinal succession concordantly overlies a >2-km-thick-section of 1657 ± 3 Ma rhyolite of the Redmond Formation. The rhyolite is intercalated with and hence contemporaneous with the lower parts of the overlying White Ledges Formation, a 300-m-thick orthoquartzite unit at the base of the Hess Canyon Group. These quartzites contain a unimodal detrital zircon age probability distribution with peak ages of 1778, 1767, and 1726 Ma, supporting regional correlation with other ca. 1.65 Ga quartzite exposures in southwestern Laurentia. However, the ~900-m-thick argillaceous Yankee Joe and minimum 600-m-thick quartzite-rich Blackjack Formations contain younger detrital zircons, with peak ages ranging from 1666 to 1494 Ma and a maximum depositional age of 1488 ± 9 Ma. Prominent age peaks at 1582-1515 Ma and 1499-1488 Ma represent detritus that is exotic and not derived from known southern Laurentian sources. The Blackjack Formation is cut by the 1436 ± 2 Ma Ruin Granite, indicating that deposition, deformation, and intrusion occurred between 1488 and 1436 Ma. This basin likely developed before or in the early stages of the 1.45-1.35 Ga intracontinental tectonism in southwestern Laurentia. Our findings necessitate the presence of an ~170 m.y. disconformity within the Hess Canyon Group and document a previously unrecognized episode of Mesoproterozoic basin sedimentation (>1.5 km of section) between 1488 and 1436 Ma in southern Laurentia. This new record helps to fill the 1.60-1.45 Ga magmatic gap in southern Laurentia and supports hypotheses for a long-lived Proterozoic tectonic margin along southern Laurentia from 1.8 to 1.0 Ga. The 1.6-1.5 Ga detrital zircon ages offer important new constraints for ca. 1.5 Ga Nuna reconstructions and for the paleogeography of contemporaneous basins such as the Belt Basin in western Laurentia.
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