Reevaluating the age of the Walden Creek Group and the kinematic evolution of the western Blue Ridge, southern appalachians

J. Ryan Thigpen, Robert D. Hatcher, Linda C. Kah, John E. Repetski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


An integrated synthesis of existing datasets (detailed geologic mapping, geochronologic, paleontologic, geophysical) with new paleontologic and geochemical investigations of rocks previously interpreted as part of the Neoproterozoic Walden Creek Group in southeastern Tennessee suggest a necessary reevaluation of the kinematics and structural architecture of the Blue Ridge Foothills. The western Blue Ridge of Tennessee, North Carolina, and Georgia is composed of numerous northwestdirected early and late Paleozoic thrust sheets, which record pronounced variation in stratigraphic/structural architecture and timing of metamorphism. The detailed spatial, temporal, and kinematic relationships of these rocks have remained controversial. Two fault blocks that are structurally isolated between the Great Smoky and Miller Cove-Greenbrier thrust sheets, here designated the Maggies Mill and Citico thrust sheets, contain Late Ordovician-Devonian conodonts and stable isotope chemostratigraphic signatures consistent with a mid-Paleozoic age. Geochemical and paleontological analyses of Walden Creek Group rocks northwest and southeast of these two thrust sheets, however, are more consistent with a Late Neoproterozoic (550-545 Ma) depositional age. Consequently, the structural juxtaposition of mid-Paleozoic rocks within a demonstrably Neoproterozoic-Cambrian succession between the Great Smoky and Miller Cove-Greenbrier thrust sheets suggests that a simple foreland-propagating thrust sequence model is not applicable in the Blue Ridge Foothills. We propose that these younger rocks were deposited landward of the Ocoee Supergroup, and were subsequently plucked from the Great Smoky fault footwall as a horse, and breached through the Great Smoky thrust sheet during Alleghanian emplacement of that structure.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)279-308
Number of pages30
JournalAmerican Journal of Science
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2016


  • Blue Ridge
  • Great Smoky fault
  • Maggies Mill
  • Miller Cove fault
  • Ocoee Supergroup metamorphism
  • Taconic
  • Walden Creek

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


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