Combined Detrital U/Pb Zircon and 40Ar/39Ar Mica Geoochronology to Test Structural Models for a Devonian Orogenic Collapse Basin in the Norwegian Caledonides
Abstract:The Hornelen basin is the largest of the Devonian 'Old Red' sandstone basins in Norway, comprising 25 km of alluvial-fluvial deposits which are organized into basin-wide, coarsening-upward megacycles. Hornelen sits with several smaller basins in the hanging wall a major extensional shear zone along which the ultra-high pressure metamorphic core of subducted Baltican crust was rapidly exhumed during the extensional collapse of the Caledonian orogeny. The timing of orogenic collapse corresponds closely to the timing of the basins, which are loosely constrained by sparse trace-fossil assemblages to a mid-Devonian age. Further, the basins are now in brittle fault contact with the underlying mylonitic shear zone and the metamorphic core, implying that they are the upper-crustal expression of large-scale extension and deep-crustal exhumation.
Two distinct structural models have been proposed for Hornelen to account for these observations. The strike-slip model juxtaposes different source terranes across the basin-controlling fault and predicts spatially changing provenance within chronostratigraphic units. The supradetachment model links the filling of the basin directly to unroofing of the metamorphic core on a low-angle detachment fault, and predicts basin-wide changes in provenance through time with progressive exhumation of the metamorphic hinterland.
We present an extensive new provenance dataset, spanning the Hornelen basin strata through space and time. Detrital zircon U/Pb ages from 18 new samples comprise three distinct populations (1.6, 1.0, and 0.43 Ga) with the Caledonian-aged zircons (ca 0.43 Ga) present mainly along the northern margin of the basin, representing an Upper Allochthon source not found on the southern or eastern margins of the basin. Juxtaposition of different source terranes across the basin supports the strike-slip model. 40Ar/39Ar detrital white mica from the same sample set documents a younging of the dominant age peak from 432 Ma in the oldest sediments to 401 Ma in the youngest units, but does not document any difference between northern and southern mica sources. This trend supports the supradetachment model, but may also be explained by passive, isostatically-driven erosional unroofing of the overthickened orogenic crust.