Date of Award

8-2010

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science

Major

Geology

Major Professor

Robert D. Hatcher, Jr.

Committee Members

Christopher Fedo, Theodore Labotka

Abstract

Rocks of the western and eastern Inner Piedmont, along with the eastern Blue Ridge, comprise the Neoacadian metamorphic core of the southern Appalachians. The composite Inner Piedmont consists of the eastern Tugaloo (western Inner Piedmont) and Cat Square (eastern Inner Piedmont) terranes, which are separated by the Brindle Creek fault. Geochronologic evidence established the Brindle Creek fault as a terrane boundary within the Inner Piedmont, separating terranes of Laurentian and mixed Laurentian/Avalonian (peri-Gondwanan) zircon suites. The Newton window exposes Tugaloo terrane rocks of the Tallulah Falls Formation in the footwall of the Brindle Creek thrust sheet.

Detailed geologic mapping in the western Newton window revealed structural and metamorphic similarities between rocks across the Brindle Creek fault. Peak metamorphism occurred contemporaneously with peak deformation, reaching upper amphibolite facies across both terranes. Peak Neoacadian metamorphism occurred between 360 and 345 Ma. Electron microprobe analyses of Cat Square terrane core and rim garnet-biotite and garnet-plagioclase pairs indicate an average temperature and pressure of 620 C, 3.6 kbar and 710 C, 6.1 kbar, respectively. Temperature and pressure estimates from the lower Tallulah Falls Formation core and rim analyses yield conditions of 570 C, 4.1 kbar and 690 C, 5.9 kbar, respectively. The maximum burial depth for both Cat Square and Tugaloo terrane rocks is ~20 km. The range in metamorphic ages suggests subduction and accretion occurred at a rate of 1 kilometer per 1.75 million years.

Six deformational events shaped the western Newton window. D1 features are limited to amphibolite boudins of the Tugaloo terrane. D2 regional penetrative structures such as high-temperature foliations, mineral stretching lineations, and curved fold axes are the product of Neoacadian tectonism. The dominant S2 foliation trends north-northwest and dips moderately to the west-southwest. North-northwest-trending L2 mineral lineations parallel F2 fold axes, creating a curved map pattern recording crustal flow in an ancient orogenic channel. D3 resulted in open folding. The D4 event produced regional open folds. D5 and D6 features occur as joints, cataclasis, and diabase intrusion.

Plate II Station Map.pdf (8760 kB)
Plate II Station Map

Plate I Geologic Map.pdf (20554 kB)
Plate I Geologic Map

Plate III Cross Sections.pdf (848 kB)
Plate III Cross Sections

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