Detrital rutile U-Pb perspective on the origin of the great Cambro-Ordovician sandstone of North Gondwana and its linkage to orogeny

Dov Avigad*, Navot Morag, Avishai Abbo, Axel Gerdes

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

53 Scopus citations


LA-ICPMS U-Pb geochronology of detrital rutile from North Gondwana Cambro-Ordovician sandstones is reported for the first time. Our sampling sites in Israel, Jordan and Ethiopia are situated thousands of kilometers apart thus providing a continental-scale perspective on the cooling and unroofing history of the provenance of the great Cambro-Ordovician sandstone sheet. Detrital rutiles in the Cambrian sandstone of Israel and Jordan define a unimodal age concentration at 0.59–0.58 Ga, preceding the timing of major orogenic sutures and predating the final assembly of Gondwana. Cooling to below the rutile U-Pb closure temperature followed continental-scale Pan-African granitoid intrusion at 0.63–0.60 Ga, signifying that rather than representing high-grade metamorphism the detrital rutile age spectra reflect widespread resetting, cooling and exhumation associated with late to post-tectonic igneous activity. The unimodal 0.59–0.58 Ga age spectra do not change significantly up the Cambrian sequence, implying exhumation prior to Cambrian sedimentation generated ample crustal material with an almost uniform U-Pb rutile signature that was prone to deliver immense amounts of detritus. Therefore, rather than reflecting progressive erosion of Cambrian Supermountains, the North Gondwana Cambrian sandstone represents secondary denudation of an already-exhumed metamorphic basement. Alongside the older (0.59–0.58 Ga) detrital rutile population, which dominates the Cambrian sequence, 0.55 Ga detrital rutiles first appear in the Ordovician of Jordan while 0.54 Ga rutile locally dominates the Ordovician from Ethiopia, some 2000 km upstream the Cambro-Ordovician fluvial system, close to its headwaters. The Ordovician drainage basin has thus been extended to include crustal vestiges that were exhumed coeval with Gondwana consolidation, but it is likely that most of the rock carapace that has been eroded from consolidating Cambrian orogenic sutures has been delivered to the south (modern coordinates).

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)17-29
Number of pages13
JournalGondwana Research
StatePublished - Nov 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 International Association for Gondwana Research


  • Cambro-Ordovician sandstone
  • Detrital rutile
  • Neoproterozoic Pan-African orogeny
  • North Gondwana
  • Provenance
  • U-Pb geochronology


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