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Reevaluating the age of the Walden Creek Group and the kinematic evolution of the western Blue Ridge, southern Appalachians

March 1, 2016

An integrated synthesis of existing datasets (detailed geologic mapping, geochronologic, paleontologic, geophysical) with new paleontologic and geochemical investigations of rocks previously interpreted as part of the Neoproterozoic Walden Creek Group in southeastern Tennessee suggest a necessary reevaluation of the kinematics and structural architecture of the Blue Ridge Foothills. The western Blue Ridge of Tennessee, North Carolina, and Georgia is composed of numerous northwest-directed early and late Paleozoic thrust sheets, which record pronounced variation in stratigraphic/structural architecture and timing of metamorphism. The detailed spatial, temporal, and kinematic relationships of these rocks have remained controversial. Two fault blocks that are structurally isolated between the Great Smoky and Miller Cove-Greenbrier thrust sheets, here designated the Maggies Mill and Citico thrust sheets, contain Late Ordovician-Devonian conodonts and stable isotope chemostratigraphic signatures consistent with a mid-Paleozoic age. Geochemical and paleontological analyses of Walden Creek Group rocks northwest and southeast of these two thrust sheets, however, are more consistent with a Late Neoproterozoic (550–545 Ma) depositional age. Consequently, the structural juxtaposition of mid-Paleozoic rocks within a demonstrably Neoproterozoic-Cambrian succession between the Great Smoky and Miller Cove-Greenbrier thrust sheets suggests that a simple foreland-propagating thrust sequence model is not applicable in the Blue Ridge Foothills. We propose that these younger rocks were deposited landward of the Ocoee Supergroup, and were subsequently plucked from the Great Smoky fault footwall as a horse, and breached through the Great Smoky thrust sheet during Alleghanian emplacement of that structure.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2016
Title Reevaluating the age of the Walden Creek Group and the kinematic evolution of the western Blue Ridge, southern Appalachians
DOI 10.2475/03.2016.03
Authors J. Ryan Thigpen, Robert D. Hatcher, Linda C. Kah, John E. Repetski
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title American Journal of Science
Series Number
Index ID 70174959
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Eastern Geology and Paleoclimate Science Center

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