Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Neoproterozoic tectonic evolution of the Jebel Saghro and Bou Azzer - El Graara inliers, eastern and central Anti-Atlas, Morocco

January 1, 2012

New mapping, geochemistry, and 17 U–Pb SHRIMP zircon ages from rocks of the Sirwa, Bou Azzer–El Graara, and Jebel Saghro inliers constrain the Neoproterozoic evolution of the eastern Anti-Atlas during Pan-African orogenesis. In the Sirwa inlier, Tonian quartzite from the pre Pan-African passive margin deposits of the Mimount Formation contains detrital zircon derived entirely from the West African Craton (WAC), with most grains yielding Eburnean Paleoproterozoic ages of about 2050 Ma. Cryogenian Pan-African orogenic activity (PA1) from about 760 to 660 Ma included northward-dipping subduction to produce a volcanic arc, followed by ophiolite obduction onto the WAC. In the Bou Azzer–El Graara inlier, calc-alkaline granodiorite and quartz diorite, dated at 650–646 Ma, are syn- to post-tectonic with respect to the second period of Pan-African orogenesis (PA2), arc-continent accretion, and related greenschist facies metamorphism. Slab break-off and lithospheric delimination may have provided the source for the supra-subduction calc-alkaline plutons. At about 646 Ma, quartz diorite intruded the Tiddiline formation placing an upper limit on molassic deposition. Widespread Ediacaran high-K calc-alkaline to shoshonitic plutonism and volcanism during the final stage of Pan-African orogenesis (PA3) occurred in a setting related to either modification of the margin of the WAC or formation of a continental volcanic arc above a short-lived southward-dipping subduction zone. In the Saghro inlier, eight plutonic rocks yield ages ranging from about 588 to 556 Ma. Sampled plutonic rocks previously considered to be Cryogenian yielded Ediacaran ages. Peraluminous rhyolitic volcanic rocks in the lower part of the Ouarzazate Supergroup, including ash-flow tuffs of the Oued Dar’a caldera, yield ages between about 574 and 571 Ma. The Oued Dar’a caldera developed in a pull-apart graben produced by a left-step in a northeast-trending, left-lateral strike-slip fault zone, and much of the lower Ouarzazate Supergroup volcanic rocks in the area are probably related to caldera out-flow facies and collapse. Late stage PA3 intrusive rocks include the Bouskour–Sidi Flah and Timijt rhyolitic dike swarms at about 563 Ma, the voluminous pink Isk-n-Alla granite (559 ± 5 Ma), and volumetrically minor gabbro of Tagmout (556 ± 5 Ma). Rhyolite flows from the upper part of the Ouarzazate Supergroup, above a regional angular unconformity, yielded ages of 558 ± 4 and 556 ± 4 Ma. The youngest ages place an upper limit on block faulting and weak folding during latest Pan-African tectonic activity (PA3), coincident with the departure of the Cadomian crustal fragment from the northern margin of the WAC.

Publication Year 2012
Title Neoproterozoic tectonic evolution of the Jebel Saghro and Bou Azzer - El Graara inliers, eastern and central Anti-Atlas, Morocco
DOI 10.1016/j.precamres.2012.06.010
Authors Gregory J. Walsh, John N. Aleinikoff, Richard W. Harrison, William C. Burton, James E. Quick, Foudad Benziane, Abdelaziz Yazidi, Abderrahim Saadane
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Precambrian Research
Index ID 70044149
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Eastern Geology and Paleoclimate Science Center