Abstract

In the southern Quebec Appalachians, the early tectonic history of the Laurentian margin (Humber zone) comprises foreland-propagating, northwest-directed thrust faulting, nappe emplacement, and regional prograde metamorphism in response to the obduction of large ophiolitic nappes during the Taconian orogeny. In the internal Humber zone, this event is dated at 462 ± 3 Ma (late Middle Ordovician), which is interpreted to represent the timing of near-peak Taconian metamorphism. Superimposed hinterland-directed structures are accompanied by retrograde metamorphism and consist of back thrusts and normal faults, which respectively delimit the northwestern and southeastern limbs of the Sutton and Notre-Dame mountains anticlinoria, both salient structures of the internal Humber zone of southern Quebec. Geochronologic data on the timing of hinterland-directed deformation vary from 431 to 411 Ma. Two tectonic models are presented and discussed, which may account for the Silurian – Early Devonian evolution of the Laurentian margin: (1) back thrusting and syn- to post-compressional crustal extension in response to the tectonic wedging of basement-cored duplexes inducing delamination of supracrustal rocks; (2) tectonic exhumation of the internal Humber zone by extensional collapse. Evidence for Silurian – Early Devonian extensional tectonism in the Humber zone provides the basement infrastructures necessary for the creation and the onset of sedimentation in the Gaspé Belt basins (e.g., Connecticut Valley – Gaspé synclinorium). Several structural, metamorphic features in the internal Humber zone of the northwestern New England Appalachians yield analogous characteristics with those of southern Quebec and may have shared a similar Silurian – Early Devonian tectonic evolution.

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