Abstract

The presence of alluvial fan deposits in the lower Neoproterozoic Torridon Group in northwest Scotland illuminates Torridonian basin development at the eastern Laurentian margin. The 450 m thick Cape Wrath Member of the Applecross Formation consists of alluvial fan conglomerate and arkose succeeded by more distal, braidplain feldspathic sandstone. Palaeocurrent data comprising > 2650 measurements on trough cross-bedding are of low variability and show overall eastward flow. The projection upcurrent of regionally divergent flow directions for the lower part of the member indicates a fan of c. 50 km radius with its apex 30 km to the west near a basement (pre-Caledonian) normal fault with downthrow to the east beneath the north Minch Basin. Extensional tectonics controlled deposition of the Applecross Formation. Regional uplift, causing erosion of a youthful topography on the Lewisian Gneiss, was followed by the development of the Applecross extensional basin in two main stages. Uplift of a western source area by movement on basin-bounding normal faults occurred first in the north and caused pediplanation and alluvial fan deposition in the Cape Wrath area, with subsequent uplift of the source area for the main body of the Applecross Formation occurring further to the west and south along the line of the Minch Fault. The bulk of the Applecross Formation was derived from a weathered terrain of felsic crystalline and related supracrustal rocks reaching from the Outer Hebrides region westward for up to c. 250 km onto what are now the continental margins of the North Atlantic. The tectonic events may mark an early phase in the crustal extension that led ultimately to the opening of the Iapetus ocean.

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