During the Caledonian orogeny, the Moine thrust zone in northwestern Scotland (UK) emplaced Neoproterozoic Moine Supergroup rocks, metamorphosed during the Ordovician (Grampian) and Silurian (Scandian) orogenic periods, westward over the Laurentian passive margin in the northern highlands of Scotland. The Laurentian margin comprises Archean–Paleoproterozoic granulite and amphibolite facies basement (Scourian and Laxfordian complexes, Lewisian gneiss), Proterozoic sedimentary rocks (Stoer and Torridon Groups), and Cambrian–Ordovician passive-margin sediments. Four major thrusts, the Moine, Ben More, Glencoul, and Sole thrusts, are well exposed in the Assynt window. Two highly alkaline syenite intrusions crop out within the Moine thrust zone in the southern Assynt window. The Loch Ailsh and Loch Borralan intrusions range from ultramafic melanite-biotite pyroxenite and pseudoleucite-bearing biotite nepheline syenite (borolanite) to alkali-feldspar–bearing and quartz-bearing syenites. Within the thrust zone, syenites intrude up to the Ordovician Durness Group limestones and dolomites, forming a high-temperature contact metamorphic aureole with diopside-forsterite-phlogopite-brucite marbles exposed at Ledbeg quarry. Controversy remains as to whether the Loch Ailsh and Loch Borralan syenites were intruded prior to thrusting or intruded syn- or post-thrusting. Borolanites contain large white leucite crystals pseudomorphed by alkali feldspar, muscovite, and nepheline (pseudoleucite) that have been flattened and elongated during ductile shearing. The minerals pseudomorphing leucites show signs of ductile deformation indicating that high-temperature (~500 °C) deformation acted upon pseudomorphed leucite crystals that had previously undergone subsolidus breakdown. New detailed field mapping and structural and petrological observations are used to constrain the geological evolution of both the Loch Ailsh and the Loch Borralan intrusions and the chronology of the Moine thrust zone. The data supports the interpretation that both syenite bodies were intruded immediately prior to thrusting along the Moine, Ben More, and Borralan thrusts.
Structural, petrological, and tectonic constraints on the Loch Borralan and Loch Ailsh alkaline intrusions, Moine thrust zone, northwestern Scotland
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Robert Fox, Michael P. Searle; Structural, petrological, and tectonic constraints on the Loch Borralan and Loch Ailsh alkaline intrusions, Moine thrust zone, northwestern Scotland. Geosphere 2021; doi: https://doi.org/10.1130/GES02330.1
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