Proterozoic and Paleozoic evolution of the Blue Ridge geologic province in northern Virginia, USA
Published:February 26, 2020
William C. Burton, J. Stephen Schindler, 2020. "Proterozoic and Paleozoic evolution of the Blue Ridge geologic province in northern Virginia, USA", Geology Field Trips in and around the U.S. Capital, Christopher S. Swezey, Mark W. Carter
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This field guide presents a one-day trip across the northern Virginia Blue Ridge geologic province and highlights published geologic mapping of Mesoproterozoic rocks that constitute the core of the Blue Ridge anticlinorium and Neoproterozoic cover-sequence rocks on the fold limbs. The guide presents zircon SHRIMP (sensitive high-resolution ion microprobe) U-Pb crystallization ages of granitoid rocks and discusses the tectonic and petrologic evolution of basement rocks during the Mesoproterozoic. U-Pb data show more of a continuum for Blue Ridge Mesoproterozoic magmatic events, from ca. 1.18–1.05 Ga, than previous U-Pb TIMS (thermal ionization mass spectrometry)-based models that had three distinct episodes of plutonic intrusion. All of the younger dated rocks are found west of the N-S–elongate batholith of the Neoproterozoic Robertson River Igneous Suite, suggesting that the batholith occupies a fundamental Mesoproterozoic crustal boundary that was likely a fault. Narrow belts of paragneiss may represent remnants of pre-intrusive country rock, but some were deposited close to 1 Ga according to detrital zircon U-Pb ages.
For late Neoproterozoic geology, the guide focuses on lithologies and structures associated with early rifting of the Rodinia supercontinent, including small rift basins preserved on the eastern limb of the anticlinorium. These basins have locally thickened packages of clastic metasedimentary rocks that strike into and truncate abruptly against Mesoproterozoic basement along apparent steep normal faults. Both basement and cover were intruded by NE-SE–striking and steeply dipping, few-m-wide diabase dikes that were feeders to late Neoproterozoic Catoctin Formation metabasalt that overlies the rift sediments. The relatively weak dikes facilitated the deformation that led to the formation of the Blue Ridge anticlinorium during the middle to late Paleozoic as the vertical dikes were transposed and rotated during formation of the penetrative cleavage.
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Geology Field Trips in and around the U.S. Capital
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Prepared in conjunction with the GSA Southeastern and Northeastern Sections Joint Meeting in Reston, Virginia, the four field trips in this guide explore various locations in Virginia, Maryland, and West Virginia. The physiographic provinces include the Piedmont, the Blue Ridge, the Valley and Ridge, and the Allegheny Plateau of the Appalachian Basin. The sites exhibit a wide range of igneous, metamorphic, and sedimentary rocks, as well as rocks with a wide range of geologic ages from the Mesoproterozoic to the Paleozoic. One of the trips is to a well-known cave system in West Virginia. We hope that this guidebook provides new motivation for geologists to examine rocks in situ and to discuss ideas with colleagues in the field.