Neoproterozoic - Early Paleozoic evolution of peri-Gondwanan terranes: implications for Laurentia-Gondwana connections

J.B. Murphy, Sergei Pisarevsky, R.D. Nance, J.D. Keppie

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    280 Citations (Scopus)


    Neoproterozoic tectonics is dominated by the amalgamation of the supercontinent Rodinia at ca. 1.0 Ga, its breakup at ca. 0.75 Ga, and the collision between East and West Gondwana between 0.6 and 0.5 Ga. The principal stages in this evolution are recorded by terranes along the northern margin of West Gondwana (Amazonia and West Africa), which continuously faced open oceans during the Neoproterozoic. Two types of these so-called peri-Gondwanan terranes were distributed along this margin in the late Neoproterozoic: (1) Avalonian-type terranes (e.g. West Avalonia, East Avalonia, Carolina, Moravia-Silesia, Oaxaquia, Chortis block that originated from ca. 1.3 to 1.0 Ga juvenile crust within the Panthalassa-type ocean surrounding Rodinia and were accreted to the northern Gondwanan margin by 650 Ma, and (2) Cadomian-type terranes (North Armorica, Saxo-Thuringia, Moldanubia, and fringing terranes South Armorica, Ossa Morena and Tepla-Barrandian) formed along the West African margin by recycling ancient (2-3 Ga) West African crust. Subsequently detached from Gondwana, these terranes are now located within the Appalachian, Caledonide and Variscan orogens of North America and western Europe. Inferred relationships between these peri-Gondwanan terranes and the northern Gondwanan margin can be compared with paleomagnetically constrained movements interpreted for the Amazonian and West African cratons for the interval ca. 800-500 Ma. Since Amazonia is paleomagnetically unconstrained during this interval, in most tectonic syntheses its location is inferred from an interpreted connection with Laurentia. Hence, such an analysis has implications for Laurentia-Gondwana connections and for high latitude versus low latitude models for Laurentia in the interval ca. 615-570 Ma. In the high latitude model, Laurentia-Amazonia would have drifted rapidly south during this interval, and subduction along its leading edge would provide a geodynamic explanation for the voluminous magmatism evident in Neoproterozoic terranes, in a manner analogous to the Mesozoic-Cenozoic westward drift of North America and South America and subduction-related magmatism along the eastern margin of the Pacific ocean. On the other hand, if Laurentia-Amazonia remained at low latitudes during this interval, the most likely explanation for late Neoproterozoic peri-Gondwanan magmatism is the re-establishment of subduction zones following terrane accretion at ca. 650 Ma. Available paleomagnetic data for both West and East Avalonia show systematically lower paleolatitudes than predicted by these analyses, implying that more paleomagnetic data are required to document the movement histories of Laurentia, West Gondwana and the peri-Gondwanan terranes, and test the connections between them.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)659-682
    JournalInternational Journal of Earth Sciences
    Issue number5
    Publication statusPublished - 2004


    Dive into the research topics of 'Neoproterozoic - Early Paleozoic evolution of peri-Gondwanan terranes: implications for Laurentia-Gondwana connections'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this