Gondwanan basement terranes of the Variscan–Appalachian orogen: Baltican, Saharan and West African hafnium isotopic fingerprints in Avalonia, Iberia and the Armorican Terranes
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Iberia, Avalonia and the “Armorican” terranes form key constituents of the Variscan–Appalachian orogen, but their Neoproterozoic origins along the northern Gondwanan margin continue to be strongly debated. Here, we present a new detrital zircon U–Pb–Hf dataset from Neoproterozoic–Silurian sedimentary sequences in NW Iberia and Avalonia, in conjunction with the comprehensive existing datasets from potential source cratons, to demonstrate that the provenance of each terrane is relatively simple and can be traced back to three major cratons. The enigmatic Tonian–Stenian detrital zircons in autochthonous Iberian rocks were derived from the Saharan metacraton in the latest Neoproterozoic–early Cambrian. Avalonia is commonly considered to have been derived from the Amazonian margin of Gondwana, but the hafnium isotopic characteristics of the detrital zircon grains in early Neoproterozoic rocks bear much stronger similarities to Baltica. The hafnium isotopic array also suggests the early Avalonian oceanic arc was built on a sliver of “Grenvillian-type crust” (~ 2.0–1.0 Ga) possibly of Baltican affinity at ~ 800 Ma, prior to accretion with a continental margin at ~ 640 Ma. The Upper Allochthon of Iberia is frequently linked to the West African Craton in the late Neoproterozoic–early Cambrian, however the hafnium isotopic array presented here does not support this connection; rather it is more similar to the hafnium array from Avalonia. The Armorican terranes have strong detrital zircon isotopic links to the West African Craton during the late Neoproterozoic–Cambrian.
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