Caledonian orogenesis in Scotland is currently interpreted in terms of a Mid-Ordovician arc–continent collision (Grampian event) followed by the Silurian collision of Laurentia with Baltica (Scandian event). Lu–Hf and Sm–Nd garnet ages of c. 475–460 Ma obtained from prograde garnets in metasedimentary successions and metabasic intrusions within the Northern Highland and Grampian terranes confirm that the Mid-Ordovician Grampian orogenic event was approximately synchronous in the two terranes. Lu–Hf and Sm–Nd ages of c. 450 Ma obtained from prograde garnets within the Moine Nappe of the Northern Highland terrane provide evidence for a hitherto unrecognized Late Ordovician regional metamorphic event. The existing two-stage Grampian–Scandian model for Caledonian orogenesis in northern Scotland is thus an oversimplification, and the new ages imply a more complex structural evolution. The restriction of the Late Ordovician and Silurian events to the Northern Highland terrane reinforces the suggestion that it was far removed from the Grampian terrane until juxtaposition following major end-Caledonian (Devonian) sinistral displacement along the Great Glen Fault. A similar record of Mid- and Late Ordovician metamorphic events within the Laurentian-derived Uppermost Allochthons of Norway has been attributed to episodic accretion significantly prior to Silurian continent–continent collision and closure of the Iapetus Ocean.
Results of trace element analysis of the garnets by laser ablation inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry are available at www.geolsoc.org.uk/SUP18583.