Stratigraphic evidence from the Appalachian Basin for continuation of the Taconian orogeny into Early Silurian time

Frank R. Ettensohn, Carlton E. Brett

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41 Scopus citations


Traditional interpretations of the Appalachian Basin during Silurian time suggest a period of tectonic stability between Taconian and Acadian orogenies. However, recent interpretations of evidence from deformation and igneous sources in the northern Appalachians indicate Silurian tectonism centered on and near the St. Lawrence promontory and that this tectonism probably effected sedimentation in parts of the Appalachian Basin during much of Silurian time. Of special interest is the tectonism that extended from latest Ordovician into Early Silurian time and the nature of its relationships with known orogenic events. Although evidence and interpretations from deformation and igneous sources have become increasingly well established, there has been little support from the stratigraphic record. Now, however, criteria based on the implications of flexural models, namely the nature and distribution of unconformities, the presence of flexural stratigraphic sequences, and the distribution in time and space of dark-shale-filled foreland basins, provide stratigraphic evidence from the Appalachian Basin that supports Early Silurian (Medinan; early Llandoverian) tectonism related to Taconian orogeny. In particular, the distribution and local angularity of the Ordovician-Silurian or Cherokee unconformity suggest major tectonic influence and a latest Ordovician to Early Silurian inception for that tectonism. An overlying flexural stratigraphic sequence represented by the Lower Silurian Medina Group and the presence of a dark-shale-filled foreland basin reflected by the Power Glen-lower Cabot Head shales support interpretations of flexural subsidence related to deformational loading. Moreover, the distribution in space and time of the foreland basin containing these shales indicates that the basin is more likely a continuation of the northwestwardly shifting trend of earlier Taconian basins than that of later Salinic basins. Although the kinematic regime may be different from that of earlier Taconian tectophases, the stratigraphic evidence supports a northeastward extension of the Taconian orogeny into present-day eastern Canada during Early Silurian time and illustrates the usefulness of flexure-based stratigraphic interpretations in understanding the timing and extent of some orogenies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)279-288
Number of pages10
JournalPhysics and Chemistry of the Earth
Issue number1-3
StatePublished - 2002

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Geochemistry and Petrology


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