Thin, discontinuous remnants of Neoproterozoic intracratonic rift-basin deposits of the Chestnut Hill Formation occur in the western New Jersey Highlands. These deposits form an important link between well-documented Iapetan rift-basins in both the northern and southern Appalachians. The close spatial relations of Chestnut Hill rocks to Paleozoic sedimentary rocks open the possibility that additional Iapetan rift-basins could be concealed beneath the rocks of the Valley and Ridge Province to the west indicating a much broader zone of rifting than has been previously proposed. The Chestnut Hill Formation is intermittently exposed along a 100 km-long band that extends northeast from Pennsylvania nearly to New York State. The lower part of the Chestnut Hill Formation is composed of interbedded lithic pebble- to boulder-conglomerate and feldspathic sandstone grading upward into interbedded phyllite, feldspathic and quartz sandstone, local paleosaprolite, quartz-pebble conglomerate, thin limestone lenses, volcanic, and volcaniclasic rocks, abundant bedded ironstone (hematite ore), and ultimately into diamictites that are interpreted as possible tilloids and containing rounded intra and extrabasinal clasts of the other lithologies. Extensive soft-sediment deformation, cross bedding, and clastic dikes are common in all but the lowest and upper facies. Banded hematite layers occur preferentially in fine-grained tuffs and tuffaceous sediments, but hematitization has affected most lithologies. Volcanic rocks consist of altered rhyolitic tuffs and lapilli tuffs that are interbedded with sediments. The Chestnut Hill Formation is interpreted to have been deposited in early alluvial, and later a complex of fluvial, lacustrine and deltaic environments. Provenance studies based upon petrographic and geochemical analysis of clastic rocks indicate that the sediments are predominantly immature and reflect derivation from local uplifted felsic basement sources in a rifted-margin tectonic setting. Low to moderate weathering of the source rocks is indicated by the geochemistry of most samples, as is the locally intense effect of hydrothermal alteration. Most occurrences of the Chestnut Hill Formation are associated with major faults that exhibit normal movement of apparent Neoproterozoic age. Rocks from the Morgan Hill fault near Easton, Pennsylvania display consistent normal shear sense and vary from low temperature S-C mylonites to breccia that contains deformed pieces of Chestnut Hill Formation. ?? 2004 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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Vestiges of an Iapetan rift basin in the New Jersey Highlands: Implfications for the Neoproterozoic Laurentian margin