Cadomian S-type granites as basement rocks of the Variscan belt (Massif Central, France): Implications for the crustal evolution of the north Gondwana margin

Simon Couzinié*, Oscar Laurent, Marc Poujol, Michaël Mintrone, Cyril Chelle-Michou, Jean François Moyen, Pierre Bouilhol, Adrien Vezinet, Linda Marko

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)
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From the Neoproterozoic to the early Paleozoic, the northern Gondwana margin was sequentially shaped by the Cadomian accretionary and the Variscan collisional orogens which offers the opportunity to investigate the relative extent of crust production/reworking in both geodynamic settings. In the eastern part of the Variscan French Massif Central (FMC), the Velay Orthogneiss Formation (VOF) represents a consistent lithological unit of the pre-Variscan basement and comprises augen gneisses and leucogneisses. Such rocks constitute a unique record of the pre-Variscan magmatic history and bear critical information on the crustal evolution of the northern Gondwana margin. Here, we present whole–rock major and trace element compositions indicating that: (i) the VOF shows a remarkable geochemical homogeneity; (ii) the protolith of the augen gneisses corresponds to strongly peraluminous, “S-type” porphyritic granites originating from partial melting of an Ediacaran sedimentary sequence; (iii) the leucogneisses are former leucogranites generated by fractionation of the magma at the origin of the porphyritic granites; and (iv) the whole suite emplaced at shallow crustal levels (< 7 km). U–Pb LA–(MC–)ICP–MS analyses on zircon yielded similar emplacement ages of c. 542 Ma and a narrow range of εHf(t) clustering around 0 for the protoliths of both augen and leucogneisses. This homogeneous Hf isotope signature, notably uncommon for S-type granites, would originate from a sequential process of: (i) inherited zircon dissolution during melting and ascent in the crust due to Zr-undersaturated conditions, (ii) isotopic homogenization of the melt by advection and elemental/isotopic diffusion, followed by (iii) early saturation upon emplacement owing to rapid cooling at shallow crustal levels. We propose that partial melting of Ediacaran sediments occurred during inversion of a Cadomian back-arc basin and was promoted by the high thermal gradient typical of thinned crust domains. Therefore, the VOF and other Cadomian S-type granitoids from the northern Gondwana margin are indicative of substantial crust reworking away from any proper continental collision zone.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)16-34
Number of pages19
Early online date6 Jun 2017
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2017


  • Cadomian orogeny
  • French Massif Central
  • Lu-Hf isotopes
  • North Gondwana margin
  • S-type granites
  • Variscan orogeny


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