Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)



First Advisor

Keith A. Klepeis


This study combines structural field data with microstructural observations in an analysis of a mid-crustal shear zone related to the emplacement of the Misty pluton during a high-flux magmatic event in Northern Fiordland, New Zealand. These high-flux magmatic events transport massive amounts of heat and material as they develop along accretionary continental margins, and represent a primary source of continental crust. Fiordland, New Zealand possesses, perhaps, the most extensive middle and lower crustal exposure of these systems on earth. Therefore, this study area provides a significant opportunity to understand processes of continental crust formation in the mid-crust and how these events relate to the broader construction of continents.

Herein, I document the four-stage geologic history of the Cozette Burn field area. Pre-existing structures along the Gondwana accretionary margin hosted a regional flare-up magmatic event that produced the Misty pluton and several other large plutons of the West Fiordland Orthogneiss (WFO). This study primarily focuses on the mid-crustal emplacement of the Misty pluton during oblique convergence along the accretionary margin, forming the upper-amphibolite facies Misty Shear Zone (MSZ). The exposures of the MSZ within the Cozette Burn preserve rare structural relationships between host rock and the intrusive Misty pluton. Together, these structures developed during end-stage contractional tectonics that constructed a long-lived (~270+ Ma) composite batholith.

Heterogeneous ductile shearing defines the MSZ, with microstructural evidence indicating an interplay of high-temperature crystal plastic deformation along with partial melting of host rock and melt channeling. This resulted in focused, melt-assisted shearing under regional transpressive deformation. These accommodative processes provided an efficient mechanism for moving heat, fluids and magma sourced from the lower crust/mantle boundary into the mid-crust during 15-25 km of crustal thickening related to arc flare-up magmatism.

This flare up magmatism and MSZ formation occurred during the final stages of crustal thickening along Gondwana continental margin. High-strain, mylonitic- ultramylonitic shear zones developed in a later phase of deformation, cutting MSZ fabrics near contacts between the Misty pluton and host rock. These more localized shear zones can be attributed to either accommodation of localized melt-pressure buildup or the shift to extensional tectonics. Brittle faulting cut these structures with oblique-thrust in the Tertiary. These mid-crustal structures carry economic relevance: thickened-crust events along accretionary continental margins produce deep-crustal sourced, metal-bearing magmas that are transferred into mid-crust prior to their hydrothermal emplacement as ore deposits in the upper crust. The lasting influence of these processes warrants consideration when assessing continental crust architecture at all scales.



Number of Pages

238 p.

Included in

Geology Commons