New insights into peri-Gondwana paleogeography and the Gondwana super-fan system from detrital zircon U-Pb ages

Guido Meinhold*, Andrew C. Morton, Dov Avigad

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

193 Scopus citations


We present a synopsis of detrital zircon U-Pb ages of sandstones from North Africa and neighboring Israel and Jordan, which allows us to identify zones with characteristic sediment provenance along the northern Gondwana margin (in present-day coordinates) in Cambrian-Ordovician times, and helps us to unravel the peri-Gondwana jigsaw puzzle. A special feature of the early Paleozoic cover sequence of North Africa is the eastward increase of 1.1-0.95. Ga detrital zircons, which become ubiquitous in the early Paleozoic sandstones of the Saharan Metacraton. Detrital zircons aged about 2.7-2.5, 2.15-1.75 and 0.75-0.53. Ga are also present. Early Paleozoic sandstones with similar provenance are known from peri-Gondwana terranes in the Eastern and Western Mediterranean and from NW Iberia. These terranes need not be transported from western Gondwana (Amazonia) as suggested previously. They were likely located to the north of the Saharan Metacraton during the early Paleozoic before they rifted off from Gondwana. Furthermore, we recognize an increase, as stratigraphic ages get younger, of ca. 1.0. Ga detrital zircons at some point between the Late Cambrian and late Middle Ordovician. We speculate that this might be linked to far-field tectonics and regional uplift in central Gondwana related to plate-tectonic reorganization along the Gondwana margin, leading to erosion of ca. 1.0. Ga basement and country rocks of the Transgondwanan supermountain and fluvial dispersal of detritus toward the Gondwana margin.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)661-665
Number of pages5
JournalGondwana Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2013

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was to some extent based on results of the CASP Southern Basins of Libya Project, supported by the Earth Science Society of Libya, the Libyan Petroleum Institute, and a consortium of subscribing oil and gas companies. We thank Y. Abutarruma, M. Elgadry, M. Fanning, D. Frei, J. Howard, D. Le Heron, R. Phillips, D. Strogen, B. Thusu, and A. Whitham for scientific collaboration and discussions. Reviews by two anonymous referees and editorial handling by A. S. Collins are gratefully acknowledged.


  • Gondwana
  • North Africa
  • Paleogeography
  • Sediment provenance
  • U-Pb zircon geochronology


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