Late Neoproterozoic felsite (602.3 +/- 2 Ma) and associated metadiabase dikes in the Reading Prong, Pennsylvania, and rifting of Laurentia

Robert C. Smith, II (retired), Pennsylvania Geological Survey, 3240 Schoolhouse Road, Middletown, PA 17057.

Felsite dikes in the Rittenhouse Gap iron mine district of the Reading Prong, eastern Pennsylvania, have a close geochemical affinity with the peralkaline Battle Mountain Member of the Robertson River Igneous Suite (RRIS), northern Virginia. These newly recognized Rittenhouse Gap Felsite dikes of the Swabia Creek Igneous Suite (SCIS) of eastern Pennsylvania plot as within-plate, A-type, A1 granites on various discriminant diagrams, but are quite distinct from late Neoproterozoic Catoctin Metarhyolite of Pennsylvania which has lower Ga/Al and Nb, but higher Eu. Newly recognized metadiabase dikes, also found in the Rittenhouse Gap district and proposed as Tunnel Mine Metadiabase of the SCIS, classify as alkali within-plate or continental initial rifting alkali tholeiites. They are quite distinct chemically and mineralogically from Catoctin Metabasalt flows and equivalent metadiabase dikes in Pennsylvania, which have lower Nb. Sr and Nd isotopic data indicate that the Tunnel Mine Metadiabase and Rittenhouse Gap Felsite are of mantle origin, but that the latter also includes a crustal component.

The SCIS bimodal volcanics in Pennsylvania suggest a previously unrecognized rift environment in Pennsylvania at 602 Ma, somewhat predating the recognized, latest Neoproterozoic Catoctin event in Pennsylvania. As such, they fill in both temporal and geographic gaps for the rifting of Laurentia in Pennsylvania. It is proposed that the SCIS melt developed from a remnant ember of the northeastward trace of the older Mount Rogers-RRIS hotspot as Laurentia rotated clockwise. However, release and intrusion of the SCIS may have been related to younger Catoctin event crustal thinning that slightly predated the mafic dike phase of the Catoctin as Laurentia later migrated northward over a second hotspot. Eventually, the mafic phase associated with this second hotspot sufficiently attenuated the crust to allow introduction of Catoctin volcanics.

Abstract from paper published in Northeastern Geology & Environmental Sciences, v. 25, no. 3, 2003, 175-185. Used by permission.