Confirmation of the southwest continuation of the Cat Square terrane, southern Appalachian Inner Piedmont, with implications for middle Paleozoic collisional orogenesis

American Journal of Science
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Abstract

Detailed geologic mapping, U-Pb zircon geochronology and whole-rock geochemical analyses were conducted to test the hypothesis that the southwestern extent of the Cat Square terrane continues from the northern Inner Piedmont (western Carolinas) into central Georgia. Geologic mapping revealed the Jackson Lake fault, a ∼15 m-thick, steeply dipping sillimanite-grade fault zone that truncates lithologically distinct granitoids and metasedimentary units, and roughly corresponds with a prominent aeromagnetic lineament hypothesized to represent the southern continuation of the terrane-bounding Brindle Creek fault. Results of U-Pb SHRIMP geochronology indicate Late Ordovician to Silurian granitoids (444–439 Ma) occur exclusively northwest of the fault, whereas Devonian (404–371 Ma) granitoids only occur southeast of the fault. The relatively undeformed Indian Springs granodiorite (three individual bodies dated 317–298 Ma) crosscuts the fault and occurs on both sides, which indicates the Jackson Lake fault is a pre-Alleghanian structure. However, detrital zircon signatures from samples southeast of the Jackson Lake fault reveal dominant Grenville provenance, in contrast to Cat Square terrane detrital zircon samples from the northern Inner Piedmont, which include peri-Gondwanan (600–500 Ma) and a prominent Ordovician-Silurian (∼430 Ma) signature. We interpret the rocks southeast of the Jackson Lake fault to represent the southwestern extension of the Cat Square terrane primarily based on the partitioning of granitoid ages and lithologic distinctions similar to the northern Inner Piedmont.

Data suggest Cat Square terrane metasedimentary rocks were initially deposited in a remnant ocean basin setting and developed into an accretionary prism in front of the approaching Carolina superterrane, ultimately overridden by it in Late Devonian to Early Mississippian time. Burial to >20 km resulted in migmatization of lower plate rocks, forming an infrastructure beneath the Carolina superterrane suprastructure. Provenance patterns support ∼250 km of Devonian dextral translation of the composite Inner Piedmont, which places the northern portion of the Inner Piedmont adjacent to a suite of ∼430 Ma plutons in the Virginia Blue Ridge during deposition. The megascopic thrust-nappe structural style of the northern Inner Piedmont, combined with southwest-directed lateral extrusion at mid-crustal depths, may reconcile differences in timing of metamorphism between the Carolina and central Georgia Inner Piedmont and structural contrasts between the Brindle Creek and Jackson Lake faults.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Confirmation of the southwest continuation of the Cat Square terrane, southern Appalachian Inner Piedmont, with implications for middle Paleozoic collisional orogenesis
Series title American Journal of Science
DOI 10.2475/02.2017.01
Volume 317
Issue 2
Year Published 2017
Language English
Publisher American Journal of Science
Contributing office(s) Eastern Geology and Paleoclimate Science Center
Description 82 p.
First page 95
Last page 176
Online Only (Y/N) N