Late Paleozoic extensional reactivation of the Rheic–Rhenohercynian suture zone in SW England, the English Channel and Western Approaches
Published:November 11, 2019
Andrew C. Alexander, Robin K. Shail, Brian E. Leveridge, 2019. "Late Paleozoic extensional reactivation of the Rheic–Rhenohercynian suture zone in SW England, the English Channel and Western Approaches", Fifty Years of the Wilson Cycle Concept in Plate Tectonics, R. W. Wilson, G. A. Houseman, K. J. W. McCaffrey, A. G. Doré, S. J. H. Buiter
Download citation file:
The Rheic Ocean is a persistent feature of Paleozoic palaeogeographies whose closure contributed to the development of the Variscan Orogen and the formation of Pangaea. Geological and geophysical data indicate repeated episodes of Paleozoic rifting and plate convergence around SW England and the adjacent offshore areas. SW England occupied a lower plate position during the Devonian–Carboniferous, on the northern passive margin of the short-lived Rhenohercynian Ocean that had formed near a recently closed segment of the Rheic Ocean. Variscan plate convergence resulted in the development of the composite southwards-dipping Rheic–Rhenohercynian suture zone by the latest Devonian and inversion of the lower plate basins during the Carboniferous. Early Permian NNW–SSE extensional reactivation of this suture zone controlled the development of the Western Approaches basins in its hanging wall and provides an excellent example of Wilson cycle structural inheritance. The onshore expression of this episode includes shear zones and detachment faults consistent with top-to-the-SSE extensional reactivation of Variscan thrust faults. There is a progression to higher-angle brittle extensional faults that cut out earlier structures. Exhumation of the lower plate was accompanied by Early Permian mantle and concomitant crustal partial melting, the construction of the Cornubian Batholith and W–Sn–Cu fracture-hosted mineralization.
Figures & Tables
Fifty Years of the Wilson Cycle Concept in Plate Tectonics
CONTAINS OPEN ACCESS
Fifty years ago, Tuzo Wilson published his paper asking ‘Did the Atlantic close and then re-open?’. This led to the ‘Wilson Cycle’ concept in which the repeated opening and closing of ocean basins along old orogenic belts is a key process in the assembly and breakup of supercontinents. The Wilson Cycle underlies much of what we know about the geological evolution of the Earth and its lithosphere, and will no doubt continue to be developed as we gain more understanding of the physical processes that control mantle convection, plate tectonics, and as more data become available from currently less accessible regions.
This volume includes both thematic and review papers covering various aspects of the Wilson Cycle concept. Thematic sections include: (1) the Classic Wilson v. Supercontinent Cycles, (2) Mantle Dynamics in the Wilson Cycle, (3) Tectonic Inheritance in the Lithosphere, (4) Revisiting Tuzo's question on the Atlantic, (5) Opening and Closing of Oceans, and (6) Cratonic Basins and their place in the Wilson Cycle.