The Loch Maree Group: Palaeoproterozoic subduction-accretion complex in the Lewisian of NW Scotland

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The Lewisian complex of northwest (NW) Scotland has long been correlated with intercontinental Palaeoproterozoic belts of the North Atlantic region but uncertainty about the age and origin of the supracrustal rocks of the Loch Maree Group (LMG)and the apparent lack of subduction-related intrusive rocks have precluded interpretations of a similar tectonic setting for the Lewisian. We present integrated field, geochemical and geochronological data that resolve both issues and are consistent with an intercontinental setting. The LMG is made up of two components, one oceanic (plateau basalts or primitive arcs, plus associated abyssal sediments, ferruginous hydrothermal deposits, and platform carbonates) and the other continental (deltaic flysch, greywacke shale). The metasediments have geochemical characteristics that imply a source outside the Archaean gneisses of the Lewisian, an interpretation that agrees with the detrital zircon populations (from the Flowerdale schists) that have a significant 2.2-2.0-Ga component. The Ard gneiss, formerly regarded by some as a tectonic sliver of basement, is a strongly foliated granodiorite that occurs in sheets intrusive into the LMG, and has given a U-Pb crystallisation age of 1903 ± 3 Ma, consistent with its syntectonic relationship with the major D1/D2 phase of Proterozoic deformation. The gneiss has a rather primitive geochemistry, which implies that it was not generated by melting of the local metasediments but was derived by partial melting of a more mafic source. The most likely model is that the LMG evolved as an accretionary complex, modern parallels of which can be found in the Shimanto belt in Japan, Rhodope in north Greece and Colombia and the Caribbean. The various elements of the complex became tectonically intermixed and subject to extreme deformation during accretion to the overriding Lewisian continent. Eventual relaxation and exhumation of the accretionary complex may have resulted in the generation of the Ard gneiss (possibly by melting of the underplated oceanic plateau) followed by collision with the continental crust of the lower plate. The younger D3 phase of the Palaeoproterozoic deformation sequence was coincident with the emplacement of the Tollie pegmatites at 1.7 Ga, c 200 m. years after the main collisional event, and may be related to a younger accretionary event (Labradorian?).

Original languageEnglish
JournalPrecambrian Research
Issue number2-4
Pages (from-to)205-226
Number of pages22
Publication statusPublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes

    Research areas

  • Gairloch, Geochemistry, Mafic volcanics, Palaeoproterozoic, Subduction-accretion, Tectonic models

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