The narrow, short-lived Taconic-Grampian Orogen occurs along the north-western margin of the Appalachian-Caledonian Belt from, at least, Alabama to Scotland, a result of the collision of a series of early Ordovician oceanic island arcs with the rifted margin of Laurentia. The present distribution of Taconian-Grampian ophiolites is unlikely to represent a single fore-arc from Alabama to Scotland colliding at the same time with the continental margin along its whole length; more likely is that there were several Ordovician arcs with separate ophiolites. The collision suture is at the thrust base of obducted fore-arc ophiolite complexes, and obduction distance was about two hundred kilometres. Footwalls to the ophiolites are, sequentially towards the continent, continental margin rift sediments and volcanics and overlying rise sediments, continental shelf slope carbonates, and sediments of foreland flexural basins. The regionally-flat obduction thrust complex between the ophiolite and the rifted Laurentian margin is the collision suture between arc and continent. A particular problem in drawing tectonic profiles across the Taconic-Grampian Zone is several orogen-parallel major strike-slip faults, both sinistral and dextral, of unknown displacements, which may juxtapose portions of different segments. In western Newfoundland, most of the Grenville basement beneath the Fleur-de-Lys metamorphic complex (Neoproterozoic to early Ordovician meta-sediments) was eclogitised during the Taconic Orogeny and separated by a massive shear zone from the overlying Fleur-de-Lys, which was metamorphosed at the same time but in the amphibolite facies. The shear zone continued either to a distal intracontinental “subduction zone” or to the main, sub-fore-arc, subduction zone beneath which the basement slipped down to depths of up to seventy kilometres at the same time as the ophiolite sheet and its previously-subcreted metamorphic sole were being obducted above. Subsequently, the eclogitised basement was returned to contact with the amphibolite-facies cover by extensional detachment eduction, possibly enhanced by subduction channel flow, which may have been caused by slab break-off and extension during subduction polarity flip. Although the basal ophiolite obduction thrust complex and the Fleur-de-Lys-basement subduction-eduction surfaces must have been initially gently-dipping to sub-horizontal, they were folded and broken by thrusts during late Taconian, late Ordovician Salinic-Mayoian, and Acadian shortening.

You do not currently have access to this article.