SHRIMP U-Pb evidence for a Late Silurian age of metasedimentary rocks in the Merrimack and Putnam-Nashoba terranes, eastern New England

Robert P. Wintsch*, John N. Aleinikoff, G. J. Walsh, W. A. Bothner, II M. Hussey, C. M. Fanning

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    36 Citations (Scopus)


    U-Pb ages of detrital, metamorphic, and magmatic zircon and metamorphic monazite and titanite provide evidence for the ages of deposition and metamorphism of metasedimentary rocks from the Merrimack and Putnam-Nashoba terranes of eastern New England. Rocks from these terranes are interpreted here as having been deposited in the middle Paleozoic above Neoproterozoic basement of the Gander terrane and juxtaposed by Late Paleozoic thrusting in thin, fault-bounded slices. The correlative Hebron and Berwick formations (Merrimack terrane) and Tatnic Hill Formation (Putnam-Nashoba terrane), contain detrital zircons with Mesoproterozoic, Ordovician, and Silurian age populations. On the basis of the age of the youngest detrital zircon population (∼425 Ma), the Hebron, Berwick and Tatnic Hill formations are no older than Late Silurian (Wenlockian). The minimum deposition ages of the Hebron and Berwick are constrained by ages of cross-cutting plutons (414 ± 3 and 418 ± 2 Ma, respectively). The Tatnic Hill Formation must be older than the oldest metamorphic monazite and zircon (∼407 Ma). Thus, all three of these units were deposited between ∼425 and 418 Ma, probably in the Ludlovian. Age populations of detrital zircons suggest Laurentian and Ordovician arc provenance to the west. High grade metamorphism of the Tatnic Hill Formation soon after deposition probably requires that sedimentation and burial occurred in a fore-arc environment, whereas time-equivalent calcareous sediments of the Hebron and Berwick formations probably originated in a back-arc setting. In contrast to age data from the Berwick Formation, the Kittery Formation contains primarily Mesoproterozoic detrital zircons; only 2 younger grains were identified. The absence of a significant Ordovician population, in addition to paleocurrent directions from the east and structural data indicating thrusting, suggest that the Kittery was derived from peri-Gondwanan sources and deposited in the Fredericton Sea. Thus, the Kittery should not be considered part of the Laurentian-derived Merrimack terrane; it more likely correlates with the early Silurian Fredericton terrane of northeastern New England and Maritime Canada.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)119-167
    Number of pages49
    JournalAmerican Journal of Science
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - Jan 2007


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