The Massabesic Gneiss Complex, New Hampshire: A study of a portion of the Avalon terrane

Mj. Dorais et al., The Massabesic Gneiss Complex, New Hampshire: A study of a portion of the Avalon terrane, AM J SCI, 301(7), 2001, pp. 657-682
Citations number
Categorie Soggetti
Earth Sciences
Journal title
ISSN journal
0002-9599 → ACNP
Year of publication
657 - 682
SICI code
Geochemical data from the 625 Ma Massabesic Gneiss Complex of southern New Hampshire show strong affinities for other Avalonian rocks of southern New England and suggest continental rifting in the Late Proterozoic. Migmatized paragneiss, the dominant rock type in the complex, has major and trace ele ment compositions that are compatible with graywackes from continental arcs . The paragneiss also has strong lithologic, metamorphic, and isotopic simi larities to the rocks of the Hope Valley zone of Connecticut Avalon, sugges ting a possible Hope Valley-Massabesic correlation. At 625 Ma, the paragnei ss epsilon (Nd) values are similar to Avalonian crust in other locations of the orogen. Two types of amphibolite are present in minor amounts in the paragneiss of the Massabesic Gneiss Complex. The first type is a paramphibolite and consi sts of calc-silicate layers in the Massabesic paragneiss, the second type i s metaigneous. Major and trace element abundances reveal that the protolith s of the orthoamphibolites range from continental rift alkaline basalts and tholeiites to N-type MORBs. Orthoamphibolite epsilon (Nd) (625 Ma) values range from 2.4 to 4 as expected of rift related magmas derived from partial melting of a depleted mantle source and have the same values as Iapetus oc ean floor rocks of similar age. Orthoamphibolite major and trace element ge ochemical characteristics overlap those of the Middlesex Fells amphibolites of the Esmond-Dedham zone of eastern Massachusetts Avalon, which range fro m alkaline to transitional basalts erupted in a continental rift setting. T he compositions of orthoamphibolites define a potential magmatic continuum produced by batch partial melting of the mantle initiated during continenta l rifting and proceeded to ocean basin formation. The inferred continuity of mafic magmatism from the Esmond-Dedham (Middlese x Fells Formation) to the Massabesic Gneiss Complex (and Hope Valley zone) suggests that these zones are not distinct lithotectonic zones but are part s of a single landmass. Massachusetts Avalon (Esmond-Dedham) represents the continental section of Avalon where the alkaline to transitional magmas of the early rifting stages are preserved. According to our tectonic reconstr uction, the Massabesic Gneiss Complex is the oceanward, continental margin represented by volcanoclastic sediments with the MORBs representing the ini tiation of ocean basin development. The leading edge of this landmass, of w hich the Massabesic Gneiss Complex is the only observable remnant, collided with Laurentia during the Acadian Orogeny. The inboard, thicker, more cont inental trailing-edge, that is, platform Avalon (Esmond-Dedham) collided la ter during the Alleghanian Orogeny.