The conventional view that the basement of the southern and central Appalachians represents juvenile Mesoproterozoic crust, the final stage of growth of Laurentia prior to Grenville collision, has recently been challenged. New whole-rock Pb and Sm‑Nd isotopic data are presented from Mesoproterozoic basement in the southern and central Appalachians and the Granite-Rhyolite province, as well as one new U-Pb zircon age from the Granite-Rhyolite province. These data, combined with existing data from Mesoproterozoic terranes throughout southeastern Laurentia, further substantiate recent suggestions that the southern and central Appalachian basement is exotic with respect to Laurentia.
Sm-Nd isotopic compositions of most rocks from the southern and central Appalachian basement are consistent with progressive growth through reworking of the adjacent Granite-Rhyolite province. However, Pb isotopic data, including new analyses from important regions not sampled in previous studies, do not correspond with Pb isotopic compositions of any adjacent crust. The most distinct ages and isotopic compositions in the southern and central Appalachian basement come from the Roan Mountain area, eastern Tennessee–western North Carolina. The data set indicates U-Pb zircon ages up to 1.8 Ga for igneous rocks, inherited and detrital zircon ages >2.0 Ga, Sm-Nd depleted mantle model (TDM) ages >2.0 Ga, and the most elevated 207Pb/204Pb observed in southeastern Laurentia.
The combined U-Pb geochronologic and Sm-Nd and Pb isotopic data preclude derivation of southern and central Appalachian basement from any nearby crustal material and demonstrate that Grenville age crust in southeastern Laurentia is exotic and probably was transferred during collision and assembly of Rodinia. These new data better define the boundary between the exotic southern and central Appalachian basement and adjacent Laurentian Granite-Rhyolite province.