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Avalonia and Ganderia are composite microcontinental fragments in the northern Appalachian orogen likely derived from Gondwanan sources. Avalonia includes numerous Neoproterozoic magmatic arc sequences that represent protracted and episodic subduction-related magmatism before deposition of an Ediacaran–Ordovician cover sequence of mainly siliciclastic rocks. We characterized the nature of the basement on which these arcs were constructed using zircon grains from arc-related magmatic rocks in Atlantic Canada that were analyzed for their Lu-Hf isotope composition. The majority of zircon grains from Avalonia are characterized by initial 176Hf/177Hf values that are more radiogenic than chondritic uniform reservoir, and calculated crust formation Hf TDM (i.e., depleted mantle) model ages range from 1.2 to 0.8 Ga. These data contrast with those from Ganderia, which show typically positive initial εHf values and Hf TDM model ages that imply magmatism was derived by melting of crustal sources with diverse ages ranging from ca. 1.8 to 1.0 Ga. The positive distribution of initial εHf values along with the pattern of Hf TDM model ages provide a clear record of two distinct subduction systems. Cryogenian–Ediacaran magmatism is interpreted to have resulted from reworking of an evolved Mesoproterozoic crustal component in a long-lived, subduction-dominated accretionary margin along the margin of northern Amazonia. A change in Hf isotope trajectory during the Ediacaran implies a greater contribution of isotopically evolved material consistent with an arc-arc–style collision of Ganderia with Avalonia. The shallow-sloping Hf isotopic pattern for Paleozoic Ganderian magmatism remains continuous for ~200 m.y., consistent with tectonic models of subduction in the Iapetus and Rheic Oceans and episodic accretion of juvenile crustal terranes to Laurentia.

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