Abstract

The Eastern Blue Ridge Province of the southern Appalachians contains, in part, remnants of an Ordovician accretionary wedge complex formed during subduction of an oceanic tract before mid-Ordovician accretion with Laurentia. The Eastern Blue Ridge Province consists of metapelite and amphibolite intruded by low-K plutons, high-temperature (T >750 °C) Ordovician eclogite, and other high-pressure metamafic and meta-ultramafic rocks. Felsic plutons in the Eastern Blue Ridge Province are important time markers for regional-scale tectonics, deformation, and metamorphism. Plutons were thought to be related to either Taconian (Ordovician) or Acadian (Devonian-Silurian) tectonothermal events.

We dated five plutonic or metaplutonic rocks to constrain pluton crystallization ages better and thus the timing of tectonism. The Persimmon Creek gneiss yielded a protolith crystallization age of 455.7 ± 2.1 Ma, Chalk Mountain 377.7 ± 2.5 Ma, Mt. Airy 334 ± 3 Ma, Stone Mountain 335.6 ± 1.0 Ma, and Rabun 335.1 ± 2.8 Ma. The latter four plutons were thought to be part of the Acadian “Spruce Pine Suite,” but instead our new ages indicate that Alleghanian (Carboniferous-Permian) plutonism is widespread and voluminous in the Eastern Blue Ridge Province. The Chattahoochee fault, which was considered an Acadian structure, cuts the Rabun pluton and thus must have been active during the Alleghanian orogeny. The new ages indicate that Persimmon Creek crystallized less than 3 m.y. after zircon crystallization in Eastern Blue Ridge eclogite and is nearly synchronous with nearby high-grade metamorphism and migmatization. The three phases of plutonism in the Eastern Blue Ridge Province correspond with established metamorphic ages for each of the three major orogenic pulses along the western flank of the southern Appalachians.

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