Various plate reconstructions predict that the Alexander terrane, a Neoproterozoic–Jurassic crustal fragment now located in the North American Cordillera, evolved in proximity to the northern Appalachian-Caledonian convergent margin during assembly of supercontinent Laurussia. To test stratigraphic connections with Laurussia that are implied by these plate reconstructions, we measured the Hf isotopic compositions of 176 detrital zircons from two relevant sedimentary sequences of the Alexander terrane. An older, Upper Silurian–Lower Devonian terrestrial to shallow-marine molasse sequence yields 405–490 Ma detrital zircons with negative εHf(t) values and Mesoproterozoic to Paleoproterozoic Hf model ages. In combination with paleomagnetic and biogeographic constraints, these Hf data argue for the molasse strata to be now-displaced equivalents of the Old Red Sandstone and primarily sourced from crustally contaminated granitoids in the Greenland, Svalbard, or British Caledonides. Late Silurian–Early Devonian orogenesis in the Alexander terrane is therefore likely related to the Scandian-Salinic phase of Appalachian-Caledonian mountain building. Younger, Middle Devonian sequences of the Alexander terrane are endowed in 390–490 Ma detrital zircons with positive εHf(t) values and Neoproterozoic Hf model ages. These isotopic signatures are consistent with the erosion of local basement rocks during the opening of the Slide Mountain–Angayucham backarc rift and tectonic separation of the Alexander terrane from northern Laurussia.
- Received 16 August 2012.
- Revision received 29 October 2012.
- Accepted 31 October 2012.
- © 2011 Geological Society of America