International Journal of Earth Sciences

, Volume 107, Issue 2, pp 587–599 | Cite as

Late Neoproterozoic to Carboniferous genesis of A-type magmas in Avalonia of northern Nova Scotia: repeated partial melting of anhydrous lower crust in contrasting tectonic environments

  • J. Brendan Murphy
  • J. Gregory Shellnutt
  • William J. Collins
Original Paper


Avalonian rocks in northern mainland Nova Scotia are characterized by voluminous 640–600 Ma calc-alkalic to tholeiitic mafic to felsic magmas produced in a volcanic arc. However, after the cessation of arc activity, repeated episodes of felsic magmatism between ca. 580 Ma and 350 Ma are dominated by A-type geochemical characteristics. Sm–Nd isotopic data, combined with zircon saturation temperature estimates, indicate that these magmas were formed by high temperature (800–1050 °C) melting of the same anhydrous crustal source. Regional tectonic considerations indicate that A-type felsic magmatism was produced (1) at 580 Ma in a San Andreas-type strike slip setting, (2) at 495 Ma as Avalonia rifted off Gondwana, (3) at 465 and 455 in an ensialic island arc environment and (4) at 360–350 Ma during post-collisional, intra-continental strike-slip activity as Avalonia was translated dextrally along the Laurentian margin. These results attest to the importance of crustal source, rather than tectonic setting, in the generation of these A-type magmas and are an example of how additional insights are provided by comparing the geochemical and isotopic characteristics of igneous suites of different ages within the same terrane. They also suggest that the shallow crustal rocks in northern mainland Nova Scotia were not significantly detached from their lower crustal source between ca. 620 Ma and 350 Ma, a time interval that includes the separation of Avalonia from Gondwana, its drift and accretion to Laurentia as well as post-accretionary strike-slip displacement.


West Avalonia A-type granites Crustal recycling Appalachians Ediacaran Paleozoic 



JBM acknowledges the continuing support of N.S.E.R.C. and a Hadyn Williams Fellowship at Curtin University. JGS wishes to thank the Ministry of Science and Technology (Taiwan) through grant #102-2628-M-003-001-MY4. WJC acknowledges support from a Curtin Senior Research Fellowship and ARC DP 120104004. We thank Jarda Dostal and an anonymous reviewer for constructive reviews that significantly improved the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. Brendan Murphy
    • 1
    • 3
  • J. Gregory Shellnutt
    • 2
  • William J. Collins
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Earth SciencesSt. Francis Xavier UniversityAntigonishCanada
  2. 2.Department of Earth SciencesNational Taiwan Normal UniversityTaipeiTaiwan
  3. 3.Earth Dynamics Research Group, and The Institute for Geoscience Research (TIGeR), Department of Applied GeologyCurtin UniversityPerthAustralia

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