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Tectonic evolution of the Zambezi orogenic belt: geochronological, structural, and petrological constraints from northern Zimbabwe

Hargrove, U. S., Hanson, R. E., Martin, M. W., Blenkinsop, Thomas G., Bowring, S. A., Walker, N. and Munyanyiwa, H. 2003. Tectonic evolution of the Zambezi orogenic belt: geochronological, structural, and petrological constraints from northern Zimbabwe. Precambrian Research 123 (2-4) , pp. 159-186.

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In southern Africa, the Zambezi belt forms the eastern part of a transcontinental orogenic system that connects with the East African orogen and records interactions between the Congo and Kalahari cratons during collisional assembly of the Gondwana supercontinent at the end of the Neoproterozoic. We report the results of reconnaissance studies in the eastern part of the Zambezi belt in northern Zimbabwe, where thick-skinned thrusting has inverted a crustal column comprising a Neoproterozoic supracrustal sequence tectonically overlain by rocks exhumed from the lower crust. An extensive felsic gneiss with A-type geochemical signatures that is inferred to represent a metarhyolitic unit within the supracrustal sequence has yielded a U–Pb zircon crystallization age of ca. 795 Ma, which helps to constrain the timing of supracrustal deposition in this part of the Zambezi belt. The dominant ductile structures in the area record south-vergent thrusting, during which the supracrustal rocks underwent prograde, amphibolite-facies metamorphism as they were overridden by a crystalline thrust stack partly preserving high-pressure granulite-facies assemblages. Complex U–Pb zircon geochronological results for a layered, metagabbroic to meta-anorthositic intrusive complex in the upper part of the thrust stack are interpreted to indicate a minimum igneous crystallization age of ca. 1830 Ma. Polydeformed orthogneisses in the lower part of the thrust stack were derived from granitoid protoliths with U–Pb zircon crystallization ages of ca. 1050 and 870 Ma. The younger granites are inferred to be parts of an A-type magmatic province that can be recognized throughout the Zambezi belt. U–Pb zircon and titanite geochronological results from the layered complex and the underlying orthogneisses are interpreted to record metamorphism associated with thrust emplacement at ca. 550–530 Ma. This is consistent with isotopic age data from adjacent areas, indicating that a major orogenic event affected the Zambezi belt in this time frame, during assembly of central Gondwana.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Earth and Ocean Sciences
Subjects: Q Science > QE Geology
Uncontrolled Keywords: Zambezi belt; Neoproterozoic orogeny; Zimbabwe; U–Pb geochronology
Publisher: Elsevier
ISSN: 0301-9268
Last Modified: 04 Jun 2017 05:19

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