U–Pb ion microprobe detrital zircon provenance investigations of pre-Mesozoic sediment samples from southern Novaya Zemlya and northern Taimyr, Arctic Russia, provide new constraints on the tectonic evolution of northern Eurasia. Sediments from both areas previously assigned a Neoproterozoic age are shown to be Palaeozoic (≤500 Ma), changing our understanding of the timing of tectonic events and their regional correlation. Samples from Novaya Zemlya provide an a priori Baltica signature, and dominant cumulative probability age peaks between 610 and 530 Ma are consistent with derivation from Timanide sources. Samples from northern Taimyr also contain the unique Timanian ’fingerprint' and are also inferred to be derived from the continental slope of northeastern Baltica, implying that the North Kara block was a part of Baltica in the early Palaeozoic. These data constrain the timing of deformation, metamorphism and development of an unconformity in southern Novaya Zemlya to a restricted period no earlier than late Cambrian–early Ordovician and at least 50 Ma after the peak Timanian event. The unconformity on Novaya Zemlya can be correlated in style and timing with an unconformity on Severnaya Zemlya and may record post-Timanian extensional collapse and onset of spreading in the Uralian Ocean.
U–Th–Pb ion-microprobe analytical results are available at http://www.geolsoc.org.uk/SUP18340.