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Vol. 50 (2014)

Stratigraphic evolution of provenance in a thick conglomerate-dominated Carboniferous succession in the southern Isle Madame area, Nova Scotia, and paleogeographic implications

  • Eric Force
December 6, 2013
August 1, 2014




Thick conglomerate-dominated sedimentary successions of the Horton and lower Windsor groups in the southern Isle Madame area show provenance variations with stratigraphic position, based on pebble counts, petrographic observations, and facies trends throughout the conglomeratic units. These coarse clastic sediments were deposited in a transtensional basin that formed south of a splay of the Minas Fault Zone, now repeated by younger faults in the study area. A stratigraphic section 1300 m thick that includes the base of the Horton Group was derived mostly, if not entirely, from units in the Avalonian Mira terrane to the east. Similar provenance indications continue stratigraphically upward in this section and elsewhere on Isle Madame through the thick lower and central parts of the Horton Group. In the upper part of the Horton Group, an influx of high-grade metamorphic and deformed plutonic clasts is recorded in the conglomerates, and the percentage of this material continues to increase above a dark fine-grained interval and into the overlying Windsor Group. The metamorphic clasts strongly resemble local basement rocksexposed as belts between conglomeratic domains in Isle Madame, indicating that these deeper crustal rocks were unroofed within the former basin in the late Tournaisian, resulting in redirected drainage patterns. Paleocurrent and facies information suggest that the Mira terrane sources were located to the northwest at the time of deposition. Hence, paleogeographic reconstruction for the area involves not only unroofing of the deeper crustal rocks, but also dextral transcurrent movement to place the appropriate parts of the Mira terrane at the northwestern corner of exposed parts of the basin. This movement was along a subsequently deformed part of the Minas Fault Zone.