Petrology and geochronology of Mesoproterozoic basement of the Mount Rogers area of southwestern Virginia and northwestern North Carolina: Implications for the Precambrian tectonic evolution of the southern Blue Ridge province

American Journal of Science
By: , and 

Links

Abstract

Results from new geologic mapping, SHRIMP U-Pb geochronology, and petrologic studies indicate that Mesoproterozoic basement in the northern French Broad massif near Mount Rogers consists of multiple, mostly granitic plutons, map- and outcrop-scale xenoliths of pre-existing crustal rocks, and remnants of formerly overlying meta-sedimentary lithologies. Zircon and titanite ages demonstrate that these rocks collectively record nearly 350 m.y. of tectonic evolution including periods of igneous intrusion at ca. 1190 to 1130 Ma (Early Magmatic Suite) and ca. 1075 to 1030 Ma (Late Magmatic Suite) and three episodes of regional metamorphism at ca. 1170 to 1140, 1070 to 1020, and 1000 to 970 Ma. The existence of ca. 1.3 Ga age crust is indicated by (1) orthogranofels of ca. 1.32 Ga age in a map-scale xenolith, (2) inherited zircons of ca. 1.33 to 1.29 Ga age in Early Magmatic Suite plutons, and (3) ca. 1.36 to 1.30 Ga age detrital zircons in meta-sedimentary lithologies. Mineral assemblages developed in amphibolites and granofelses indicate that metamorphism during both Mesoproterozoic episodes occurred at upper amphibolite- to lower granulite-facies conditions. Syn-orogenic Early Magmatic Suite plutons emplaced at ca. 1190 to 1145 Ma are characterized by high-K, variably magnesian, dominantly calc-alkalic compositions, and have trace-element characteristics indicative of continental-arc magmatic origin involving melting of thick continental crust. In contrast, ca. 1140 Ma age quartz syenite displays A-type features indicating derivation from depleted crustal sources with increased mantle input during waning stages of regional contraction. Plutons of the compositionally bimodal Late Magmatic Suite include (1) ca. 1060 Ma meta-granite with geochemical characteristics transitional between silicic rocks of arc systems and post-collisional granites of A-type lineage, and (2) ca. 1055 Ma monzodioritic rocks with A-type compositional characteristics that likely reflect derivation from fertile, mafic sources in the lower crust. Collectively, these data suggest that Mesoproterozoic rocks of the study area preserve evidence of multiple orogenic episodes that likely involved continental-arc development and deformation at ca. 1150 Ma followed by crustal thickening at ca. 1060 Ma. Field relations and geochronologic data indicate that regional uplift and sedimentation occurred at ca. 1100 Ma between the two episodes of overlapping magmatism and orogenesis. The nature and timing of Mesoproterozoic events recorded in basement rocks of the study area illustrate significant differences in the lithologic assemblages and geologic history preserved by Mesoproterozoic basement of the adjacent Shenandoah and French Broad massifs, suggesting that the Blue Ridge massifs occupied different locations within the regional Grenville-age orogen until about 1070 Ma when the effects of Ottawan-age tectonics began to affect both areas. The near ubiquity of Ottawan-age orogenic activity recorded in Mesoproterozoic rocks of the Blue Ridge, other Appalachian inliers such as the New Jersey Highlands, and the Grenville province of Canada, including the Adirondacks, suggests that these formerly disparate terranes were amalgamated to form a common, regional orogen by this time.

Study Area

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Petrology and geochronology of Mesoproterozoic basement of the Mount Rogers area of southwestern Virginia and northwestern North Carolina: Implications for the Precambrian tectonic evolution of the southern Blue Ridge province
Series title American Journal of Science
DOI 10.2475/03.2017.01
Volume 317
Issue 3
Year Published 2017
Language English
Publisher American Journal of Science
Contributing office(s) Central Mineral and Environmental Resources Science Center
Description 87 p.
First page 251
Last page 337
Country United States
State North Carolina, Virginia