Geology of the Mount Rogers area, revisited: Evidence of Neoproterozoic continental rifting, glaciation, and the opening and closing of the Iapetus Ocean, Blue Ridge, VA–NC–TN
Recent field and geochronological studies in eight 7.5-minute quadrangles near Mount Rogers in Virginia, North Carolina and Tennessee recognize (1) important stratigraphic and structural relationships for the Neoproterozoic Mount Rogers and Konnarock Formations, and the northeast end of the Mountain City window; (2) the separation of Mesoproterozoic rocks of the Blue Ridge into three age groups; and (3) the timing and emplacement of the Blue Ridge thrust sheet. The study area includes folded and faulted Paleozoic strata of the Valley and Ridge in the northwest juxtaposed by metamorphic and igneous rocks of the Blue Ridge to the southeast. In the Valley and Ridge, Cambrian to Middle Ordovician carbonate and clastic rocks are exposed in a syncline in the Pulaski thrust sheet; these rocks are overridden by the Blue Ridge thrust sheet. The northeast end of the Mountain City window is interpreted as a simple window; the Stone Mountain fault is folded and continues as the Iron Mountain fault on the NW-side of the window. The Stone Mountain fault does not exist at the surface to the NE near the Razor Ridge volcanic center. Instead, a continuous section of Proterozoic gneisses, Mount Rogers Formation, Konnarock Formation and Chilhowee Group is now recognized.
Rhyolites of the Mount Rogers Formation range from 760–749Ma, with detrital zircon age populations from associated volcaniclastic rocks indicating magmatism and rifting began by ~780 Ma. Rhyolite outliers in the Konnarock Formation and a change from rift-related clastic rocks of the Mount Rogers Formation transitioning to maroon laminites, mudstones and laminites with dropstones, suggest that the Konnarock Formation may be as old as ~751 Ma.
Mesoproterozoic crystalline rocks of the Blue Ridge, previously referred to as the Cranberry Gneiss, are distinguished based on field relationships and SHRIMP U–Pb zircon geochronology: (1) ~1.33 Ga pre-Grenvillian crust; (2) 1190–1140 Ma granitoids (early magmatic suite); and (3) 1075–1030 Ma granitoids (late magmatic suite).
Multiple greenschist-facies high-strain zones, including the 2–11 km wide Fries high-strain zone, occur in the Blue Ridge thrust sheet. Fabrics across the Fries and Gossan Lead faults have similar orientations and NW–directed contractional deformation. 40Ar/39Ar hornblende, muscovite, and K-feldspar ages indicate the western and eastern Blue Ridge had different thermal histories. The eastern Blue Ridge (Gossan Lead thrust sheet) experienced a 360–340 Ma amphibolite facies event prior to juxtaposition with the western Blue Ridge. 40Ar/39Ar muscovite ages in western Blue Ridge rocks document greenschist facies metamorphism and deformation and emplacement of the Blue Ridge thrust sheet at ~340 Ma; the Catface and Fries faults are tentatively interpreted to be contemporaneous. After initial emplacement of the Blue Ridge thrust sheet at ~340 Ma, shortening was accommodated by westward translation along the basal decollement, which carried the Blue Ridge thrust sheet to its current position.
|Geology of the Mount Rogers area, revisited: Evidence of Neoproterozoic continental rifting, glaciation, and the opening and closing of the Iapetus Ocean, Blue Ridge, VA–NC–TN
|Arthur J. Merschat, Ryan J. McAleer, Christopher Holm-Denoma, C. Scott Southworth
|USGS Publications Warehouse
|Eastern Geology and Paleoclimate Science Center; Geology, Geophysics, and Geochemistry Science Center; Florence Bascom Geoscience Center