Abstract

Dikes in the southeastern United States represent a major component of the Central Atlantic magmatic province and record kinematics of Pangean breakup near the critical, predrift junction of three major continental masses. Until now, the age of these dikes had not been determined with the same precision as those of Central Atlantic magmatic province basalts on other parts of the circum-Atlantic margin. Our new results for three dike samples from the South Carolina Piedmont yield plateau ages of 198.8 ± 2.2, 199.5 ± 1.8, and 199.7 ± 1.5 Ma. For comparison, we present new age determinations of the benchmark Watchung flows I and III of the Newark basin: 201.0 ± 2.1 and 198.8 ± 2.0 Ma, respectively. Collectively, these data suggest that basaltic volcanism responsible for the dikes, flows, and sills of eastern North America occurred within ∼1 m.y. of 200 Ma. The timing, brief duration, and extent of the Central Atlantic magmatism imply that it may have been causally related to Triassic-Jurassic mass extinctions. The distribution and timing of this magmatism and the absence of regional uplift or an identifiable hotspot track lead us to favor strong lithospheric control on the origin of the Central Atlantic magmatic province, consistent with the modern generation of plume incubation or edge-driven convection models.

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