The Turner Mountain syenite, Maine, USA: geology, geochemistry, geochronology, petrogenesis, and post-orogenic exhumation


  • Chunzeng Wang University of Maine at Presque Isle
  • Allan Ludman Queens College
  • Long Xiao China University of Geosciences at Wuhan



Syenite, Geochemistry, Geochronology, Turner Mountain, Norumbega fault system


The Turner Mountain syenite is one of the few plutons located entirely within the Norumbega fault system in the northern Appalachian orogen. It is composed of texturally and mineralogically homogeneous biotite-amphibole syenite and is in faulted contact with mylonitic leucogranite and an unmetamorphosed redbed unit. It is intermediate in SiO2 content (58.7–65.1 wt%) and ultrapotassic (6.4–7.9 wt% K2O) with high K2O/Na2O ratios (2.75–4.15), yet is relatively primitive in terms of MgO (2.8–4.9 wt%), Ni (average 90.2 ppm), and Cr (average 210.1 ppm) contents. It has enriched large-ion-lithophile elements relative to high field strength elements, high contents of light rare-earth elements, and initial 87Sr/86Sr ratios (0.7038–0.7068) similar to that of OIB basalts. It differs petrologically and geochemically from the neighboring Lucerne-Deblois plutons but is similar to Lincoln syenite located 100 km to the southwest, also within the Norumbega system. Zircon U-Pb dating using LA-ICP-MS yields a weighted mean age of 410.5 ± 2.4 Ma, slightly younger than the Lincoln syenite (418 ± 1 Ma). Based on their distinctive geochemical signatures, both were probably products of Late Silurian-Early Devonian ultrapotassic magmatism related to Acadian subduction, generated by partial melting of a mantle wedge metasomatized by potassium-rich fluids during west-directed subduction. This unique magmatism could be attributed to decompressional melting during Late Silurian-Early Devonian slab break-off or delamination. Based on Sr-Nd isotopic compositions, the Turner Mountain syenite magma probably had more crustal interaction than that which formed the Lincoln syenite. The syenite was later exhumed tectonically during brittle reactivation of the Norumbega fault. The reactivation involved regional-scale, high-angle, southeast-over-northwest reverse faulting in a transpressional environment and occurred during the Late Devonian and through Mississippian to Permian.

Author Biographies

Chunzeng Wang, University of Maine at Presque Isle

Associate Professor, Geology

Allan Ludman, Queens College

Professor, Geology

Long Xiao, China University of Geosciences at Wuhan

Professor, Geology




How to Cite

Wang, C., Ludman, A., & Xiao, L. (2014). The Turner Mountain syenite, Maine, USA: geology, geochemistry, geochronology, petrogenesis, and post-orogenic exhumation. Atlantic Geology, 50, 233 - 248.