West Gondwanaland during and after the Pan-African and Brasiliano orogenies: downslope vectors and detrital-zircon U–Pb and TDM ages and εHf/Nd pinpoint the provenances of the Ediacaran–Paleozoic molasse

J. J. Veevers

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    14 Citations (Scopus)


    The Pan-African and Brasiliano orogenies endowed West Gondwanaland with U–Pb 700–500 Ma zircons, which, together with 1200–1000 Ma zircons from Rodinian collisions, are scattered in the Ediacaran–Paleozoic syn- and post-tectonic molassic outflow from the orogens. A more complete (TDM, εHf) isotopic signature in places narrows the search for provenance but exclusive use of the signature is of limited value given the ubiquity of primary and secondary 700–500 Ma and 1200–1000 Ma zircons. To overcome this shortcoming, I link the detrital-zircon signature with paleogeographical indicators of downslope preserved in minor sedimentary structures generated by gravity currents: the cross-dip azimuth in fluvial sediments, flute marks and other vectorial markings in turbidites.

    The prominent East African-Antarctic Orogen (EA-AO) trends through Africa-Arabia southward through East Africa/Madagascar to Dronning Maud Land in Antarctica. Squire et al. (Squire et al., 2006. Did the Transgondwanan Supermountain trigger the explosive radiation of animals on Earth? Earth and Planetary Science Letters 250, 116–133) postulated > 8000-km-long and > 1000-km-wide Transgondwanan Supermountains (TGSM) atop the EA-AO that resulted in extreme erosion and sedimentation rates; super-fans of quartz sand spread across continental North Africa-Arabia and oceanic crust offshore East Gondwanaland, as seawater 87Sr/86Sr rose to a maximum. Downslope indicators and the isotopic signature confirm the suggested deposition of the enormous North African-Arabian Super-fan from the Oubanguides Orogen-TGSM (Burke et al., 2003. Africa's petroleum systems: four tectonic 'Aces' in the past 600 million years. Geological Society of London Special Publications 207, 21–60), and the Cape Group from the TGSM. Other major provenance → sink relations are the Oubanguides Orogen → Congo Basin and the Damara Orogen and Dom Feliciano Orogens → Nama Basin. Minor and proximal provenance → sink relations are the Tuareg Shield and the Dahomeyides-Nigerian Shield → Volta Basin, and the Paraguay Orogen → Puncoviscana Basin. The voluminous primary sediment deposited during the Ediacaran, Cambrian, and Ordovician was recycled many times up to its present-day appearance in river and beach sand in Africa and in Australia.

    Compared with 60–0 Ma (~ Cenozoic) collisional Himalaya-Tibet and Mongolian Plateaus and related sediment fans of East Asia, the 700–500 Ma (Ediacaran–Cambrian) collisional continental super-fan in North Africa and Arabia and the deep-sea super-fan off East Gondwanaland are larger in extent and in their impact on seawater 87Sr/86Sr, probably because West Gondwanaland underwent crustal shortening over a much longer span; furthermore, the ancient morphotectonic regime lasted to the Carboniferous/Permian (~ 300 Ma) merger of Gondwanaland and Laurussia in Pangea, which instituted widespread Pangean-induced subsidence in broad basins that overlapped the planed-off orogens.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)105-140
    Number of pages36
    JournalEarth-Science Reviews
    Publication statusPublished - Aug 2017


    • U–Pb detrital zircon age
    • Hf-isotopes
    • Paleoslope indicators
    • West Gondwanaland provenances
    • East African-Antarctic Orogen
    • Sediment fans

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