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Zircon U–Pb and rutile trace element data are used to investigate the provenance of late Devonian to early Permian terrestrial sandstones in the Embla and Flora oil fields on the north flank of the Mid North Sea High, central North Sea. Two Old Red Sandstone samples (ORS 1) are dominated by 1.2–0.9 Ga Grenvillian zircons and low- to medium-grade rutile, with sparse Cambro-Ordovician Caledonian zircons (2–4%) and high-grade rutiles (0–5%). The samples are interpreted as recycled metasediments from the Scottish Caledonides. Two other Old Red Sandstone samples (ORS 2) contain a high proportion of Caledonian, mainly Silurian zircons (15–19%) and high-grade rutiles (15–18%); we propose that these components are traceable to the Krummedal sequence on East Greenland (and related sediments). We interpret the data to reflect a temporal evolution of the regional drainage system from northwestern to northeastern sources, with high-grade detritus reaching the Mid North Sea High in the Famennian–early Carboniferous. A late Carboniferous and an early Permian sandstone yielded zircon and rutile signatures compatible with recycling of Palaeozoic sediments north of southernmost Scotland, probably reflecting inversion tectonics. Recycling of Mesoproterozoic to Palaeozoic sediments is thus a prominent feature of the studied late Palaeozoic sandstones.

Supplementary material:

Electron microprobe data from rutile trace element analyses, additional rutile temperature plots and zircon LA-ICPMS U–Pb data are available at

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