Source of the Dalradian Supergroup constrained by U-Pb dating of detrital zircon and implications for the East Laurentian margin

Peter A. Cawood, Alexander A. Nemchin, Martin Smith, Staci Loewy

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Detrital zircons in siliciclastic units of the Dalradian Supergroup yield U-Pb ages ranging from 3.2 to 0.5 Ga. Detrital zircons from the sub-Grampian Group basement and the Grampian Group are predominantly of Palaeoproterozoic and Mesoproterozoic ages with Archaean grains absent or rare. In contrast, the overlying Appin, Argyll and Southern Highland groups contain a significant contribution of Archaean detrital zircon grains, some of which locally preserve evidence for late Palaeoproterozoic overgrowths dated at c. 1.8 Ga. In addition, on concordia plots Archaean grains are slightly discordant with a lower intercept at c. 1.8 Ga suggesting they were affected by a tectonothermal event at this time. Late Palaeoproterozoic and Mesoproterozoic grains also show evidence for overprinting by a tectonothermal event around 1.0-0.9 Ga. These tectonothermal events occurred in the source region before accumulation of the siliciclastic detritus. The analysed samples contained no definitive evidence for having been affected by a late Neoproterozoic (Knoydartian event or of containing detritus derived from a source showing evidence for this event. The overall age range of detritus, combined with sparse palaeocurrent data, is consistent with derivation from the Laurentian foreland, especially the Labrador-Greenland region. Archaean detritus overlaps with that of Archaean cratons, notably the Superior, whereas Palaeoproterozoic detritus corresponds to the timing of suturing of Archaean cratons by a series of orogenic belts (Ketilidian-Makkovik, New Quebec, Nagssugtoqidian, Torngat belts). Mesoproterozoic detritus is consistent with derivation from the Grenville Orogen. The presence of a series of detrital age peaks in the late Palaeoproterozoic and early Mesoproterozoic (1.8-1.5 Ga), the paucity of mid-Mesoproterozoic detritus (1.4-1.2 Ga), and evidence for a tectonothermal event between 1.0 and 0.9 Ga is typical of the geological history of the Labrador-Greenland region of Laurentia.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)231-246
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of the Geological Society
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2003
Externally publishedYes


  • Dalradian Supergroup
  • Laurentia
  • Provenance
  • U/Pb

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