Stratified rocks of early and middle Paleozoic age form a belt of northeast-trending anticlinoria and synclinoria of middle Paleozoic age, in northern Vermont and adjacent parts of southern Quebec. The foreland margin of this belt, in the Champlain and St. Lawrence valleys to the west, is cut by eastward-dipping thrust faults of middle Paleozoic age and by later northeast-trending normal faults. The Green Mountain anticlinorium, which is the dominant structure of the region, is flanked to the west, on the foreland, by the St. Albans-Hinesburg-Middlebury synclinorium and to the east, in the midst of the folded belt, by the Connecticut Valley-Gaspe synclinorium. The principal thrust faults, notably the Champlain and Philipsburg thrusts, are in the west limb of the St. Albans-Hinesburg-Middlebury synclinorium. East of the Connecticut Valley-Gaspe synclinorium is the Boundary Mountain anticlinorium, in eastern Vermont and adjacent New Hampshire and along the international boundary between Quebec and Maine.
Two contrasting intergradational lithic assemblages, the graywacke-shale assemblage and the carbonate-quartzite assemblage, characterize the protolith of the bedded rocks. The graywacke-shale assemblage includes thick sections of lower Paleozoic strata, portions of which lap both gradationally and unconformably westward on the foreland, particularly in Quebec; it also includes middle Paleozoic strata that offlap eastward away from the foreland. The carbonate-quartzite assemblage laps both unconformably and gradationally eastward over the graywacke-shale assemblage in sections of the middle Paleozoic east of the axis of the Green Mountain anticlinorium.
Stratigraphic correlation has become well established in the foreland belt where numerous distinctive and fossiliferous strata, chiefly of the carbonate-quartzite assemblage, have escaped metamorphism. It is also fairly clear in sections in the eastern foreland and western part of the Green Mountain anticlinorium, where the strata of the carbonate-quartzite assemblage extend eastward and interfinger with rocks of the graywacke-shale terrane. Rocks that are entirely of the graywacke-shale assemblage have been correlated in the present study.
The stratified rocks west of the axis of the Green Mountain anticlinorium are of Cambrian(?), Cambrian, and Ordovician age; those to the east range in age from Cambrian to Devonian.
The geotectonic setting of the region is the once mobile belt of the Appalachian orthogeosyncline, which is at the southeastern margin of the stable continental block, or craton, of North America. The orthogeosyncline was a belt, chiefly of subsidence, that embraced two parallel and adjoining longitudinal zones: the eugeosynclinal zone, which was more mobile, and the miogeosynclinal zone, which was less mobile. Second- and third-generation geosynclines are superimposed not only on the orthogeosyncline but also on adjoining parts of the craton.
Uplift, and finally folding, gradually superseded subsidence in the orthogeosyncline. Local uplift, chiefly within the eugeosynclinal zone, provided most of the clastic sediments, principally those of the graywacke-shale assemblage. General stabilization of the western part of the orthogeosyncline at the end of the Ordovician was accompanied by eastward migration of the miogeosynclinal zone. Localized uplift within the eastern part of the orthogeosyncline at this time is marked by unconformities referred to the Taconic disturbance. Folding and uplift after the Early Devonian is shown by angular unconformities referred to the Acadian and Appalachian orogenies.
The interpretation of the geotectonic relations of the bedded rocks is aided by critical features of the magmatic activity that began with, accompanied, and followed the diastrophism.