Evolution of Ordovician terranes in western Ireland and their possible Scottish equivalents
ABSTRACT In the W of Ireland the Ordovician rocks of South Mayo and Clew Bay are now juxtaposed but a comparison of the sedimentary histories of these two sequences shows that they accumulated in basins which were probably separated during most of their history. The large amount of terrigenous detritus present in the Arenig to Llanvirn elements of the South Mayo succession is not manifest in that of Clew Bay until the Llandeilo/Caradoc, by which time sedimentation in South Mayo had ceased. A comparison of the South Mayo Ordovician with that of Girvan in Scotland demonstrates that both sequences had a similar provenance. This source contained an ophiolite, granites and some (probably pre-Dalradian) metamorphic rocks. Sediment dispersal directions for the two sequences are opposite in sense, being primarily northward in South Mayo and southward at Girvan. The two stratigraphies indicate that basement subsidence behaviour in South Mayo was virtually the opposite of that at Girvan where initial shallow water sedimentation was rapidly succeeded by deep water environments at the end of the Llanvirn. The two basins may thus have been marginal to a single Ordovician arc complex. One reason for the opposite sense of basin subsidence may lie in the suggested reversal of subduction polarity during the Ordovician. In this scenario the South Mayo basin may be envisaged as lying to the N of a northward-facing arc during the early Ordovician. A new, northward, subduction direction instigated during the Llanvirn, resulted in a fore-arc basin at Girvan complemented by a closing back-arc basin in South Mayo.
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