Paleozoic orogens in New England, USA

Peter Robinson*, Robert D. Tucker, Dwight Bradley, Henry N. Berry IV, Philip H. Osberg

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

176 Citations (Scopus)


Stratigraphy and isotope geochronology in the crystalline core of the Appalachians suggest revised interpretations of the extent, nature and timing of Paleozoic orogens in New England. Five major episodes of magmatism, deformation, and high-grade regional metamorphism are recognized: Taconian (455-442 Ma), Acadian (423-385 Ma), Neo-Acadian (366-350 Ma), Late Pennsylvanian (300-290 Ma) and Alleghanian (280-260 Ma). In the Taconian, the passive margin of Laurentia was subducted below a complex magmatic arc lasting from 480 to 442 Ma, founded in part on continental crust of a Medial New England terrane with possible affinities with Amazonia. Questions about Medial New England involve its coherence as a single plate, and the nature of its underlying crust. The Acadian began in Late Silurian as a collision between the amalgamated Laurentia-Medial New England and outer belts of Composite Avalon along a cryptic suture in coastal Maine, and progressed northwestward to the Connecticut Valley basin by mid-Devonian. Tonalitic-granitic magmatism and up to granulite-facies metamorphism culminated in Early Devonian, possibly tied to lithospheric detachment below the subducting northwestern plate and consequent asthenosphere upwelling. Newly discovered Neo-Acadian Late Devonian to Early Mississippian tonalitic-granitic magmatism, up to granulite-facies metamorphism, and severe deformation in central Massachusetts took place in a plate context poorly understood. Late Pennsylvanian effects include magmatism, metamorphism, and deformation near south New England gneiss domes and the Sebago batholith, and development of the right-lateral Norumbega fault system. Permian Alleghanian effects include penetrative deformation, granitic intrusions and up to sillimanite-grade metamorphism of Pennsylvanian beds in southeastern New England. These last two episodes relate to the arrival of Africa.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)119-148
Number of pages30
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 1998
Externally publishedYes


  • Acadian
  • Alleghanian
  • Deformation
  • Geochronology
  • Metamorphism
  • Northern Appalachians
  • Plate tectonics
  • Plutonism
  • Stratigraphy
  • Taconian


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