The narrowest section of the Appalachian Orogen in Atlantic Canada (from Grenville-age basement in the west to the Avalon Terrane in the east) is preserved in Cape Breton Island, where components of four terranes display distinctive stratigraphic, igneous, metamorphic, aeromagnetic, and gravity characteristics. The Blair River Complex of northwestern Cape Breton Island is a fragment of Grenvillian rocks that is similar to units in western Newfoundland. The Aspy Terrane is characterized by mid-Paleozoic granitic rocks and high-pressure paragneisses and appears to continue across the Cabot Strait as the Gander Terrane of the Hermitage Flexure in Newfoundland. The Bras d'Or Terrane is composed of Hadrynian to Early Cambrian low-pressure metasedimentary units and dioritic to granitic plutonic rocks. As indicated by aeromagnetic anomalies, this terrane continues across the Laurentian Channel to the south coast of Newfoundland, where it may be terminated by the Hermitage Fault. The Avalon Terrane of southeastern Cape Breton Island bears many similarities to the Avalon Terrane of Newfoundland.A seismic reflection profile obtained as part of the Lithoprobe-East project shows that the Blair River Complex is juxtaposed against the Aspy Terrane by steeply dipping fault systems that cut through the entire crust and that the Bras d'Or Terrane is similarly juxtaposed with the Avalon Terrane. The nature of the boundary between the Aspy and Bras d'Or terranes is less clear, although metamorphic conditions and the seismic reflection profile both suggest that the Aspy Terrane represents a deeper crustal level, over which the Bras d'Or Terrane has been emplaced.

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