- UW Department of Geology and Geophysics
The Colorado province is a major component of a >1000-km-wide belt of Paleoproterozoic ocean-arc rocks that occupies the southwestern United States. Known as the Transcontinental Proterozoic provinces, this belt of largely juvenile rocks was added to the southern margin of the North American craton during the interval 1.8–1.70 Ga by convergent tectonism along the Cheyenne belt. A growing body of data suggests that these rocks were deposited, at least locally, on older rocks of earliest Proterozoic and Archean ages, probably correlative with the Trans-Hudson and Penokean orogens.
The volcano-plutonic and associated sedimentary rocks of the Colorado province record two major, regional orogenies: (1) an older, protracted thermotectonic episode (1.78–1.70 Ga), named the Colorado orogeny, which involved mainly amphibolite-facies metamorphism during piecemeal assembly of various ocean-arc terranes; and (2) a younger, Mesoproterozoic intra-continental orogeny, named the Berthoud orogeny, which involved associated regional heating and A-type plutonism chiefly during the interval 1.45–1.40 Ga. The term “Colorado orogeny” is proposed for the regional Paleoproterozoic dynamothermal deformation. To distinguish differences in the geodynamics and ages of deformation and facilitate comparisons from place to place, type localities are proposed for separate phases or events of the Colorado orogeny. The central Front Range is suggested as a type area for the Berthoud orogeny, because the character and orientation of structures there are readily distinguished from those of the older Colorado orogeny.