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Detrital zircon geochronology of pre- and syncollisional strata, Acadian orogen, Maine Appalachians

April 8, 2016

The Central Maine Basin is the largest expanse of deep-marine, Upper Ordovician to Devonian metasedimentary rocks in the New England Appalachians, and is a key to the tectonics of the Acadian Orogeny. Detrital zircon ages are reported from two groups of strata: (1) the Quimby, Rangeley, Perry Mountain and Smalls Falls Formations, which were derived from inboard, northwesterly sources and are supposedly older; and (2) the Madrid, Carrabassett and Littleton Formations, which were derived from outboard, easterly sources and are supposedly younger. Deep-water deposition prevailed throughout, with the provenance shift inferred to mark the onset of foredeep deposition and orogeny. The detrital zircon age distribution of a composite of the inboard-derived units shows maxima at 988 and 429 Ma; a composite from the outboard-derived units shows maxima at 1324, 1141, 957, 628, and 437 Ma. The inboard-derived units have a greater proportion of zircons between 450 and 400 Ma. Three samples from the inboard-derived group have youngest age maxima that are significantly younger than the nominal depositional ages. The outboard-derived group does not share this problem. These results are consistent with the hypothesised provenance shift, but they signal potential problems with the established stratigraphy, structure, and (or) regional mapping. Shallow-marine deposits of the Silurian to Devonian Ripogenus Formation, from northwest of the Central Maine Basin, yielded detrital zircons featuring a single age maximum at 441 Ma. These zircons were likely derived from a nearby magmatic arc now concealed by younger strata. Detrital zircons from the Tarratine Formation, part of the Acadian foreland-basin succession in this strike belt, shows age maxima at 1615, 980 and 429 Ma. These results are consistent with three episodes of zircon recycling beginning with the deposition of inboard-derived strata of the Central Maine Basin, which were shed from post-Taconic highlands located to the northwest. Next, southeasterly parts of this succession were deformed in the Acadian orogeny, shedding detritus towards the northwest into what remained of the basin. Finally, by Pragian time, all strata in the Central Maine Basin had been deformed and detritus from this new source accumulated as the Tarratine Formation in a new incarnation of the foreland basin. Silurian-Devonian strata from the Central Maine Basin have similar detrital zircon age distributions to coeval rocks from the Arctic Alaska and Farewell terranes of Alaska and the Northwestern terrane of Svalbard. We suggest that these strata were derived from different segments of the 6500-km-long Appalachian-Caledonide orogen.

Publication Year 2017
Title Detrital zircon geochronology of pre- and syncollisional strata, Acadian orogen, Maine Appalachians
DOI 10.1111/bre.12188
Authors Dwight C. Bradley, Paul B. O'Sullivan
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Basin Research
Index ID 70189148
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Alaska Science Center Geology Minerals