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Lithologies, ages, and provenance of clasts in the Ordovician Fincastle Conglomerate, Botetourt County, Virginia, USA

February 28, 2019

The Fincastle Conglomerate is an Ordovician polymictic, poorly sorted, matrix- and clast-supported cobble to boulder-rich conglomerate located just north of Fincastle, Botetourt County, VA. At least nine other cobble and boulder conglomerates are located in a similar stratigraphic position from Virginia to Georgia west of the Blue Ridge structural front. All except the Fincastle are dominated (~80%) by carbonate clasts; Fincastle clasts are much more varied and siliceous and it is this clast diversity that provides increased value for provenance and related studies. We have used a multidisciplinary approach that involves conodont analysis, sandstone petrography, in-situ outcrop clast characterization, optical petrography, electron-beam petrography and chemical analysis, and X-ray diffraction to provide data on lithologies, ages, and provenance. The size, roundness, and lithology of 1,656 clasts (> 1 cm) were measured in the field. Although, the clast lithology varies among the studied localities, the average lithology is sandstone and siltstone 12 %, vein quartz 17 %, limestone 31 %, low-grade quartzite/metasandstone 31 %, chert 6 %, and others 3 %. Dolomite, igneous, or high-grademetamorphic rock clastswere not identified in field study or in detailed laboratory analysis.Dolomite rhombs and authigenic albite feldsparwere observed in some limestone clasts. Quantitative petrographic data for the Fincastle sandstone clasts indicate tectonic environments from passive margin to transitional continental uplift, but the conglomeratematrixmodes have considerably less feldspar and plot in the foreland basin tectonic environment region. Proto-, para-, and euconodonts were identified from clast and matrix, but are long-ranging fauna indicating middle Cambrian toMiddle or Late Ordovician ages; color alteration index (CAI) for euconodonts varied from 3 to 3.5. The occurrence of well-rounded clasts including limestone suggests a nearby, high-energy environment, and that transport was rapid enough to preserve limestone before deposition into a foreland basin. The lack of igneous or high-grade metamorphic rocks clasts suggests that the erosional level sampled by the Fincastle Conglomerate did not include the underlying Grenville basement of igneous or high-grade metamorphic rocks.

Publication Year 2019
Title Lithologies, ages, and provenance of clasts in the Ordovician Fincastle Conglomerate, Botetourt County, Virginia, USA
Authors Harvey E. Belkin, John E. Repetski, Frank T. Dulong, Nelson L. Hickling
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Stratigraphy
Index ID 70203799
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Eastern Energy Resources Science Center; Eastern Geology and Paleoclimate Science Center