Palaeogeographic implications of heavy mineral and detrital zircon provenance of Devonian-Carboniferous sedimentary rocks in the North Atlantic region

Alja Sasnowski

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis


This PhD thesis discusses the implications of heavy mineral and detrital zircon geochronology data for the palaeogeographic reconstruction of the North Atlantic region during the Devonian to Carboniferous.
In the aftermath of the Caledonian orogeny, several extensional intramontane basins developed in the North Atlantic region. Sedimentary successions formed within the basins during the Late Silurian to Early Carboniferous recording the late stages of the Caledonian orogeny. Facies analysis by sedimentary logging in combination with petrographic heavy mineral analysis of 154 samples and detrital zircon geochronology of 10 samples by secondary ion mass spectrometry and 44 samples by laser ablation inductively coupled mass spectrometry of sedimentary successions of the Clair and Orcadian Basins as well as Canning Land and Wegener Halvø (East Greenland) and SW Norway indicate a complex history of provenance in this integral part of the North Atlantic region.
Sediments of the Clair Basin have been sourced from both local basement as well as basement in the north. Sediments in the southern part of the Orcadian Basin are derived from the Moine Supergroup of the Northern Highlands of Scotland. In the north of the Orcadian Basin however, the high amount of Archaean material is evidence for a connection with the Clair Basin to the west. In Canning Land and Wegener Halvø, heavy minerals and zircon ages indicate sourcing mainly from local Proterozoic basement. Sediments in SW Norway have also a relatively local basement source, but the postdepositional metamorphic overprint of the sediments complicates the reconstruction of the provenance.
This case study shows that provenance analysis can be a powerful tool for palaeogeographic reconstructions in complex terranes if a combination of multiple methods is used where single methods would inevitably lead to wrong results.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Royal Holloway, University of London
  • Muller, Wolfgang, Supervisor
  • Nichols, Gary, Supervisor
  • Morton, Andy, Supervisor, External person
  • Andrews, Steven, Supervisor, External person
  • Whitham, Andrew, Supervisor, External person
Thesis sponsors
Award date1 Jun 2015
Publication statusUnpublished - 2015


  • heavy mineral analysis
  • detrital zircon geochronology
  • palaeogeography
  • Clair Basin
  • Orcadian Basin
  • Tarbat
  • Orkney
  • Shetland
  • Moray Firth
  • East Greenland
  • Solund Basin
  • Kvamshesten Basin
  • Hornelen Basin
  • Devonian

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