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Bald Friar Metabasalt and Kennett Square Amphibolite: Two Iapetan Ocean Floor Basalts

Northeastern Geology and Environmental Sciences

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Abstract

The Bald Friar Metabasalt (BFM) and Kennett Square Amphibolite (KSA) are basaltic units found in the Piedmont of southeastern Pennsylvania. The BFM is also recognized in northern Maryland. Both are believed to represent fragments of the floor of the Iapetus Ocean, but are not known occur in direct association with one another. The BFM typically occurs as small fragments having typical stratigraphic thicknesses of 2.5 m, and composed of greenish, fine-grained chlorite-epidote-actinolite-albite metabasalt in ophiolite me??lange. One bed of pillow basalt has been found at the type locality, Bald Friar, Cecil County, Maryland. Even though outcrops of BFM are highly discontinuous, they have a remarkable chemical uniformity over a strike length of 143 km and appear to be equivalent to the Caldwell Group 1b metabasalt of the Thetford, Quebec, area. The BFM is typically associated with ultramafic fragments and may be affiliated with the Baltimore Mafic Complex (BMC), from which a baddeleyite date of 442 +/- 7 Ma (Silurian) has been obtained. The BFM is probably a back arc basin basalt (BABB). Pod and schlieren chromite compositions suggest an island arc environment for the BMC itself. The poorly defined, informal "Conowingo Creek metabasalt" of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, occurs on the north margin of the BMC and appears to be a fore arc boninite. The BFM and associated ultramafic fragments serve as a field-mappable marker for the structural equivalent of the Baie Verte-Brompton line in southeastern Pennsylvania and northern Maryland. Steatization of the associated ultramafic fragments has produced zones of extremely low competence that facilitated and localized thrusts of presumed Silurian age and later Alleghanian folding. The KSA typically occurs as much larger bodies having lengths of 3 km and composed of dark, medium-grained hornblende-plagioclase-clinopyroxene gneiss. No ultramafic rocks or me??lange have been recognized with the KSA. In Pennsylvania, the KSA appears to be restricted to a single belt on the south side of the Brandywine massifs. The KSA is transitional from N-OFB (Normal-Ocean Floor Basalt, which can be generated in a variety of oceanic spreading center environments) on the east to P=E-OFB (Plume=Enriched Ocean Floor Basalt, also generated in spreading centers) on the west, suggesting an evolving tectonomagmatic environment. It may be affiliated with the Wilmington Complex.

Additional Publication Details

Publication type:
Article
Publication Subtype:
Journal Article
Title:
Bald Friar Metabasalt and Kennett Square Amphibolite: Two Iapetan Ocean Floor Basalts
Series title:
Northeastern Geology and Environmental Sciences
Volume
28
Issue:
3
Year Published:
2006
Language:
English
Larger Work Type:
Article
Larger Work Subtype:
Journal Article
First page:
238
Last page:
253
Number of Pages:
16