Anomalously thick and coarse clastic sedimentary successions, including over 5000 m of conglomerate, are exposed on Isle Madame off the southern coast of Cape Breton Island. Two steeply to moderately dipping stratigraphic packages are recognized: one involving Horton and lower Windsor groups (Tournasian-Visean); the other involving upper Windsor and Mabou (Visean-Namurian) groups. Also anomalous on Isle Madame are three long narrow belts of "basement" rocks, together with voluminous chloritic microbreccia and minor semi-ductile mylonite, which are separated from the conglomerate-dominated successions by faults. The angular relations between the cataclastic rocks and the conglomerate units, combined with the presence of cataclasite clasts in the conglomerate units and evidence of dip-slip faults within the basin, suggest an extensional setting, where listric normal faults outline detachment allochthons. Allochthon geometry requires two stages of extension, the older stage completed in early Windsor Group time and including most of the island, and the more local younger stage completed in Mabou Group time. Domino-style upper-plate faulting in the younger stage locally repeated the older detachment relation of basement and conglomerate to form the observed narrow belts. Re-rotation of older successions in the younger stage also locally overturned the Horton Group. These features developed within a broad zone of Carboniferous dextral transcurrent faulting between already-docked Avalon and Meguma terranes. Sites of transpression and transtension alternated along the Cobequid-Chedabucto fault zone that separated these terranes. The earlier extensional features in Isle Madame likely represent the northern headwall and associated clastic debris of a pull-apart or other type of transtensional basin developed along part of this fault zone that had become listric; they were repeated and exposed by being up-ended in the second stage of extension, also on listric faults. The two-stage history on Isle Madame exposes the deeper parts of one of the Horton-age extensional basins of the Maritimes, others of which have been described as half-grabens based on their shallower exposures.
Additional publication details
A Lower Carboniferous two-stage extensional basin along the Avalon-Meguma terrane boundary: Evidence from southeastern Isle Madame, Nova Scotia