Sm-Nd isotope, major element, and trace element geochemistry of the Nashoba terrane, eastern Massachusetts
The Nashoba terrane in eastern Massachusetts comprises Cambrian-Ordovician mafic to felsic metavolcanic rocks and interlayered sediments metamorphosed during the mid-Paleozoic and intruded by a series of dioritic to granitic plutons during the Silurian to earliest Carboniferous. This work comprises two parts discussing the Sm-Nd isotope characteristics and major and trace element geochemistry of the Nashoba terrane: the first discusses the Cambrian-Ordovician metamorphosed units, the second discusses the Silurian-Carboniferous plutons. Part I: The Nashoba terrane in eastern Massachusetts lies between rocks of Ganderian affinity to the northwest and Avalonian affinity to the southeast. Its relationship to either domain was unclear and has been investigated. Major and trace element geochemical data indicate a mix of arc, MORB, and alkaline rift related signatures consistent with an origin of the terrane as a primitive volcanic arc-backarc complex built on thinned continental crust. Newly determined Sm-Nd isotopic data clarifies the original tectonic setting. Amphibolites of the Marlboro and Nashoba Formations have high εNd values (+4 to +7.5) consistent with formation in a primitive volcanic arc with minimal interaction between arc magmas and crust. Intermediate and felsic gneisses have moderate εNd values between +1.2 and –0.75 indicating a mixture of juvenile arc magmas and an evolved (likely basement) source. Depleted mantle model ages of 1.2 to 1.6 Ga indicate a Mesoproterozoic or older age for this source. Metasedimentary rocks have negative εNd values between –6 and –8.3 indicating derivation primarily from an isotopically evolved source (or sources). The model ages of these metasedimentary rocks (1.6 to 1.8 Ga) indicate a source area of Paleoproterozoic or older age. The εNd values and model ages of the intermediate and felsic rocks and metasedimentary rocks indicates that the basement to the Nashoba terrane is Ganderian rather than Avalonian. The Nashoba terrane therefore represents a southward continuation of Ganderian arc-backarc activity as typified by the Penobscot and/or Popelogan-Victoria arc systems and the Tetagouche-Exploits backarc basin in the northern Appalachians. Part II: Between 430 and 350 Ma the Nashoba terrane experienced episodic dioritic and granitic plutonism. Previous workers have suggested a supra-subduction zone setting for this magmatism based on the calc-alkaline nature of the diorites. Previously determined major and trace element geochemical data along with newly determined Sm-Nd isotopic data indicate that a subduction zone was active beneath the Nashoba terrane during the majority of the 430 to ca. 350 Ma magmatism (and likely throughout). Trace element geochemistry indicates a strong arc component in all magmas and suggests that the various Silurian to Carboniferous plutonic rocks of the Nashoba terrane could all have been derived by modification of a slightly enriched NMORB-type source via subduction zone input and crustal contamination. Most of the rocks from this period have intermediate εNd values consistent with contamination of juvenile magmas by an evolved source. The late Proterozoic model ages for most of these rocks suggest the Ganderian basement of the Nashoba terrane as the source of evolved material. One rhyolite from the nearby Newbury Volcanic Complex (of unknown affinity) has a moderately negative εNd value consistent with derivation by partial melting of Cambrian-Ordovician metasedimentary rocks of the Nashoba terrane. This suggests that the Newbury Volcanic Complex formed as the surface expression of mid-Paleozoic Nashoba terrane plutonism. Geochemical and isotopic similarities between the plutonic rocks of the Nashoba terrane and widespread contemporary Ganderian plutonism suggest that the Nashoba terrane remained a part of Ganderia during its transit and accretion to the Laurentian margin. Significantly younger model ages in the youngest granitic rocks indicate that Avalonian crust may have underthrust the Nashoba terrane after 400 Ma and contributed to the generation of these granites.