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40Ar/39Ar thermochronology and Alleghanian development of the southernmost Appalachian Piedmont, Alabama and southwest Georgia

January 2, 1993

40Ar/39Ar age spectra of hornblende, muscovite, and microcline, and total fusion ages of biotite from metamorphic rocks of the Inner Piedmont, Pine Mountain, and Uchee belts are reported. Mineral cooling ages from the eastern part of the Inner Piedmont are as follows: hornblende, 320 Ma; muscovite, 296 Ma; biotite, 293 Ma; and microcline (diffusional release patterns) Tmax = 267 Ma, Tmin = 234 Ma. A 347 Ma hornblende spectrum from the highest Inner Piedmont structural level sampled is the oldest date determined and implies earlier passage of this level through the 500 °C isotherm. Most release spectra from Pine Mountain belt units are discordant with little or no apparent geologic meaning. Modified saddle-shaped release patterns for hornblende indicate extraneous argon with a maximum age of ∼358 Ma. Muscovite from the Pine Mountain belt cover sequence is 286 Ma (plateau age), and one from the underlying Grenville basement is 277 Ma (correlation age), indicating cooling below the 350 °C isotherm. Plateau ages on Uchee belt rocks are as follows: hornblende, from 297 to 288 Ma; muscovite, 285 Ma; biotite, 276 Ma; and microcline Tmax = 261 Ma, Tmin 230 Ma. Muscovite fish from a Bartletts Ferry fault zone phyllonite have a plateau age of 283 Ma.

The 40Ar/39Ar results combined with other geologic data indicate that (1) a large part of the southern and Inner Piedmonts of Alabama and southwest Georgia experienced a late Paleozoic amphibolite-facies thermal and deformational event contemporaneous with the Alleghanian orogeny observed in the foreland; (2) the tectonic development of this event, characterized by initial crustal thickening followed by right-slip and normal-slip movements, is grossly similar to that described for the amphibolite-facies Alleghanian belt in the eastern Piedmont of South Carolina and Georgia; and (3) extensional movements along the flanks of the Pine Mountain window occurred between ca. 277 Ma and the Late Triassic-Early Jurassic and thus may reflect latest Alleghanian extensional collapse or Mesozoic rifting.

Publication Year 1993
Title 40Ar/39Ar thermochronology and Alleghanian development of the southernmost Appalachian Piedmont, Alabama and southwest Georgia
DOI 10.1130/0016-7606(1993)105<0819:AATAAD>2.3.CO;2
Authors Mark G. Steltenpohl, Michael J. Kunk
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title GSA Bulletin
Index ID 70207646
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Eastern Geology and Paleoclimate Science Center