U/Pb Zircon Ages of Plutons from the Central Appalachians and GIS-Based Assessment of Plutons with Comments on Their Regional Tectonic Significance


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Virginia Tech


The rocks of the Appalachian orogen are world-class examples of collisional and extensional tectonics, where multiple episodes of mountain building and rifting from the pre-Cambrian to the present are preserved in the geologic record. These orogenic events produced plutonic rocks, which can be used as probes of the thermal state of the source region. SIMS (secondary ion mass spectrometry) U/Pb ages of zircons were obtained for ten plutons (Leatherwood, Rich Acres, Melrose, Buckingham, Diana Mills, Columbia, Poore Creek, Green Springs, Lahore and Ellisville) within Virginia. These plutons are distinct chemically, isotopically, and show an age distribution where felsic rocks are approximately 440 Ma, and Mafic rocks are approximately 430 Ma. Initial strontium isotopic ratios and bulk geochemical analyses were also performed. These analyses show the bimodal nature of magmatism within this region.

In order to facilitate management of geologic data, including radiometric ages, strontium isotope initial ratios and major element geochemistry, a GIS based approach has been developed. Geospatially references sample locations, and associated attribute data allow for analysis of the data, and an assessment of the accuracy of field locations of plutons at both regional and local scales. The GIS based assessment of plutons also allows for the incorporation of other multidisciplinary databases to enhance analysis of regional and local geologic processes. Extending such coverage to the central Appalachians (distribution of lithotectonic belts, plutons, and their ages and compositions) will enable a rapid assessment of tectonic models.



GIS, Central Appalachians, Plutons, U/Pb Ages, Databases