Abstract

Mafic sills from Cape St. Mary's on the Avalon Peninsula of Newfoundland give an U–Pb baddeleyite age of 441 ± 2 Ma. This age corresponds with the earliest ages recorded for the climactic Silurian orogenic event that dominantly affected rocks of the Central Mobile Belt in Newfoundland. The age is consistent with but in no way necessitates that the Avalon and Gander zones were juxtaposed during the Silurian. Because sills tend to form in poorly lithified and undeformed sedimentary rocks, it is unlikely that Cambrian sediments hosting the sills were affected by Ordovician orogenic events that strongly affected central Newfoundland. Negative Nb and Ti anomalies on mid-ocean-ridge basalt normalized diagrams show that the sill geochemistry is consistent with formation in a transpressional tectonic environment. Mafic magmas clearly associated with the Silurian event share these chemical and tectonic affinities. Thus both the age and geochemical data are consistent with but do not require a link between the Gander and Avalon zones during the Silurian. If the two zones were joined prior to the Silurian then the Avalon must have been distal to both the Ordovician and Silurian orogenic activity. Further, considerable post-Silurian movement would have had to occur along the bounding Hermitage–Dover fault to account for contrasts in the intensity of metamorphism, plutonism, and deformation between the Gander and Avalon zones.

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