Suprasubduction zone (SSZ) ophiolites of the northern Appalachians (eastern North America) have provided key constraints on the fundamental tectonic processes responsible for the evolution of the Appalachian orogen. The central and southern Appalachians, which extend from southern New York to Alabama (USA), also contain numerous ultra- mafic-mafic bodies that have been interpreted as ophiolite fragments; however, this interpretation is a matter of debate, with the origin(s) of such occurrences also attributed to layered intrusions. These disparate proposed origins, alongside the range of possible magmatic affinities, have varied potential implications for the magmatic and tectonic evolution of the central and southern Appalachian orogen and its relationship with the northern Appalachian orogen. We present the results of field observations, petrography, bulk-rock geochemistry, and spinel mineral chemistry for ultramafic portions of the Baltimore Mafic Complex, which refers to a series of ultramafic-mafic bodies that are discontinuously exposed in Maryland and southern Pennsylvania (USA). Our data indicate that the Baltimore Mafic Complex comprises SSZ ophiolite fragments. The Soldiers Delight Ultramafite displays geochemical characteristics—including highly depleted bulk-rock trace element patterns and high Cr# of spinel—characteristic of subduction-related mantle peridotites and serpentinites. The Hollofield Ultramafite likely represents the “layered ultramafics” that form the Moho. Interpretation of the Baltimore Mafic Complex as an Iapetus Ocean–derived SSZ ophiolite in the central Appalachian orogen raises the possibility that a broadly coeval suite of ophiolites is preserved along thousands of kilometers of orogenic strike.
Suprasubduction zone ophiolite fragments in the central Appalachian orogen: Evidence for mantle and Moho in the Baltimore Mafic Complex (Maryland, USA)
- PDF LinkPDF
- Share Icon Share
- Search Site
George L. Guice, Michael R. Ackerson, Robert M. Holder, Freya R. George, Joseph F. Browning-Hanson, Jerry L. Burgess, Dionysis I. Foustoukos, Naomi A. Becker, Wendy R. Nelson, Daniel R. Viete; Suprasubduction zone ophiolite fragments in the central Appalachian orogen: Evidence for mantle and Moho in the Baltimore Mafic Complex (Maryland, USA). Geosphere 2021; doi: https://doi.org/10.1130/GES02289.1
Download citation file: