Abstract

Early Silurian volcanic and subvolcanic rocks are preserved in the lower part of the Chaleurs Group at two locations in northern New Brunswick. At Quinn Point, mafic to intermediate rocks are hosted by sedimentary rocks of the Weir Formation, and at Pointe Rochette, a bed of felsic tuff occurs near the base of the Weir. These rocks are interpreted as the first evidence in New Brunswick of magmatism associated with Late Ordovician – Early Silurian subduction of Tetagouche–Exploits back-arc oceanic crust. At Quinn Point, mafic rocks include a thick basaltic flow or sill and intermediate to mafic cobbles in overlying conglomerate beds. The in situ mafic rocks and the conglomerate clasts are chemically alike and display subduction-related affinities on tectonic discrimination diagrams. At Pointe Rochette, fine-grained felsic tuff contains elevated Th and U and depleted high-field-strength elements, consistent with a subduction-influenced setting, although rare-earth element (REE) abundances are low and the REE profile is relatively flat. A U–Pb (zircon) age of 429.2 ± 0.5 Ma was obtained from the tuff, consistent with the late Llandovery to early Wenlock age of the overlying La Vieille Formation and coinciding with the latter stages of development of the Brunswick subduction complex. Volcanic rocks were emplaced in the arc to arc-trench gap region, probably reflecting local step-back of the magmatic axis due to accretion of continental back-arc ribbons. The low volume of Early Silurian subduction-influenced rocks is probably related to the relatively narrow width of the back-arc basin and the young, “warm” character of back-arc crust.

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