Abstract

We present here an example of how the sensitive high-resolution ion microprobe (SHRIMP) zircon dating method can provide a terrane-specific geochronological fingerprint for a rock and thus help to reveal major tectonic boundaries within orogens. This method, applied to inherited zircons in a ca. 580 Ma metagranitoid rock from the eastern Bohemian Massif, has provided, for the first time in the central European Variscan basement, unequivocal evidence for Mesoproterozoic and late Paleoproterozoic geologic events ca. 1.2 Ga, 1.5 Ga, and 1.65–1.8 Ga. The recognition of such zircon ages has important consequences because it implies that parts of the Precambrian section of Variscan central Europe were originally derived from a Grenvillian cratonic province, as opposed to the common assumption of an African connection. A comparison with previously published SHRIMP data suggests, however, that these Mesoproterozoic and late Paleoproterozoic zircon ages may be restricted to the Moravo-Silesian unit in the eastern Variscides, whereas the Saxothuringian and Moldanubian zones appear to contain a typical north African (i.e., Neoproterozoic plus Eburnian) inherited-zircon age spectrum. This finding supports new tectonic concepts, according to which Variscan Europe is composed of a number of completely unrelated terranes with extremely different paleogeographic origins. The Moravo-Silesian unit can be best interpreted as a peri-Gondwana terrane, which was situated in the realm of the Amazonian cratonic province by the late Precambrian, comparable to the Avalonian terranes of North America and the United Kingdom.

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