Abstract

The northernmost exposures of rocks formed during the Late Neoproterozoic Cadomian orogeny in the Channel Islands–northern France region occur on Alderney. The island mainly comprises foliated quartz diorite, once considered to be 2 Ga, pre-Cadomian basement, and an undeformed basic to intermediate plutonic complex. A precise age of 610 ± 2 Ma, based on U–Pb analyses of single and small groups of zircons, for the foliated Fort Tourgis quartz diorite demonstrates that the oldest rocks were emplaced and deformed during a Cadomian magmatic event. The age is virtually identical to ages from similar, foliated syntectonic quartz diorite bodies on the islands of Guernsey and Sark and at La Hague (north Normandy), indicating that this magmatic and deformational event was regional in extent. Discordant zircon xenocrysts define an upper intercept age of c. 2 Ga indicating the presence of Palaeoproterozoic basement at depth. Single zircons from the undeformed Bibette Head granodiorite give a precise U–Pb age of 572 ± 1 Ma. This age is closely similar to that for the emplacement of the Northern Igneous Complex of Guernsey. The emerging data indicate that Cadomian magmatism in the northern Channel Islands region was not a protracted continuum, but occurred during two distinct, short-lived events separated by c. 30–40 my.

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