Abstract

Geological correlations between Cape Breton Island and Newfoundland are apparent both in surface geology and at deeper crustal levels, based on similarities in Sm-Nd isotopic signatures. The Mira terrane of southeastern Cape Breton Island is part of the Avalon terrane sensu stricto and is composed of Neoproterozoic volcanic-sedimentary-plutonic belts and overlying Cambrian rocks directly comparable to those in the western part of the Newfoundland Avalon terrane. The Bras d'Or terrane is also mainly of Neoproterozoic age, but shows lithological and isotopic contrasts with the Mira terrane. Small areas of similar Neoproterozoic rocks occur in southern Newfoundland and to the north as inliers in the Exploits terrane. The Bras d'Or terrane and similar rocks in Newfoundland are interpreted to represent a peri-Gondwanan terrane where rocks of the Gander terrane were later formed. Hence this area is part of the Central Mobile Belt and distinct from Avalon terrane sensu stricto. The Aspy terrane is a complex area that may include fragments of Bras d'Or crust and components of the Gander, Exploits, and possibly Notre Dame terranes of Newfoundland. It formed by subduction and back-arc basin opening and closure during the Silurian to Early Devonian. The Blair River Inlier is a fragment of Grenvillian rocks, similar to those in the Grenvillian inliers in the Humber zone of western Newfoundland in terms of age, rock types, and isotopic composition. Silurian and Devonian promontory-promontory collision resulted in juxtaposition and stacking of these elements in Cape Breton Island, as in the Hermitage Flexure - Port aux Basques area of Newfoundland. Because the lower crust under Bras d'Or - Gander - Aspy terranes seems distinct from that under Avalon terrane sensu stricto, it is preferable to use the term peri-Gondwanan rather than Avalonian to refer to these areas.

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