The Ash Mountain Complex (AMC) in the western Sierra Nevada batholith (SNB; California, USA) is an exposure of six compositionally diverse intrusive lithologies with clear crosscutting relationships that permit a focused investigation of magma source characteristics and the relative roles of petrogenetic processes on the evolution of the system. We use new field observations, zircon U-Pb dates, major and trace element data, and Sr-Nd-Pb isotopic data to develop a model that can be applied to similar SNB intrusive suites. Stage 1 units, emplaced ca. 105 Ma, consist of two gabbros, a gabbrodiorite, and a granite. Stage 2 and stage 3 units were emplaced ca. 104 Ma and ca. 103 Ma, respectively, and are granites. We suggest that stage 1 gabbroids were derived by partial melting of lithospheric mantle, whereas coeval felsic magmas were derived by partial melting of a mafic, juvenile crustal source. Stage 2 and stage 3 granitoids were derived from similar sources that generated stage 1 granitoids, but there was greater input from evolved crust. Fractionation and/or assimilation played only a minor role in system evolution. Past studies of SNB magmas have come to conflicting conclusions about the petrogenesis of intermediate magmas that dominate the batholith; we hypothesize that mafic and felsic end members of the AMC could represent end members in mixing processes that generate these magmas. The timing of emplacement of the AMC coincides with a transition of magmatic style in the SNB, from smaller volume magmatic suites with mixed mantle and crustal sources to larger volume magmatic suites derived from greater proportions of crust.
- Received 11 December 2012.
- Revision received 7 May 2013.
- Accepted 18 June 2013.
- © 2013 Geological Society of America