40Ar/39Ar and paleomagnetic results from Liberia and the Precambrian APW data base for the West African Shield

Tullis C. Onstott, J. Dorbor

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Lower amphibolite to granulite facies metamorphic rocks in Nimba County, Liberia have yielded 2.2-2.9 Ga RbSr whole rock ages, indicating that they are part of the Archean Liberian age province. We report a 2040 Ma4040Ar/39Ar plateau date on hornblende from an amphibolite in this region, and suggest that these rocks were also severelyreworked during the Eburnean (∼2.0 Ga) metamorphic episode. 40Ar/39Ar analyses of biotite and feldspars from neighboring schists also indicate the presence of two mild thermal events, at 1.5 Ga and 0.6 Ga. Paleomagnetic analyses of samples from these same metamorphic rocks reveal three components of magnetization. The predominant and most stable component (273°E, 21°N) is considered to have been acquired as a result of pos Eburnean uplift and cooling at ∼ 2.0 Ga, whereas the two less stable components with poles at 235°E, 43°N and 16°E, 36°N, probably correlate with the 1.5 Ga and 0.6 Ga thermal pulses, respectively. Rock units from southern Liberia also yield two secondary magnetizations, one at 247°E, 37°N and the other at 104°E, 5°N, and a 1.5 Ga 40Ar/39Ar date on plagioclase. Comparison of the paleomagnetic poles corresponding to the ∼2.0 Ga Eburnean component with published paleomagnetic data for West Africa is not consistent with prior interpretations of the polar wander path for West Africa. Our paleomagnetic data, when compared to poles of comparable age from the Kalahari Shield, still suggest that some form of displacement has occurred between the Kalahari and West African Shields since 2.0 Ga.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)537-552
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of African Earth Sciences
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1987

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geology
  • Earth-Surface Processes


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