Mush ado about the Ratagain Complex, NW Scotland: insights into Caledonian granitic magmatism and emplacement from magnetic fabric analyses

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The anisotropy of magnetic susceptibility (AMS) is used to reveal subtle mineral alignment fabrics in apparently isotropic crystalline lithologies, including granites. Such petrofabrics can be produced by emplacement-related magma flow or post-emplacement tectonic strain. However, discriminating between flow-related and tectonic fabrics using field observations alone may be challenging and is usually a broad and arbitrary interpretation. In this contribution, we employ a range of magnetic analyses to characterize the origin of the petrofabric in the c. 425 Ma Ratagain Complex, NW Scotland, a composite Late Caledonian granitic intrusion. Our detailed magnetic analyses reveal that whilst all intrusive units carry an ambient tectonic overprint, critically, this has not developed into an obvious tectonic fabric and contains a horizontal shortening component indicative of transpression. This appears at odds with the well-defined Silurian (Scandian phase) regional transtensional tectonic regime from c. 420–415 Ma onwards. Accordingly, we suggest that either the complex is younger than previously thought or that it existed as a crystal-mush close to the magmatic solidus for a protracted period after its initial emplacement. This study lays the foundations for much-needed further investigations into the detailed emplacement mechanisms, timescales and petrogenesis of individual granitic intrusions, to aid understanding of Late Caledonian tectonics.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbersjg2021-018
Number of pages25
JournalScottish Journal of Geology
Issue number1
Early online date20 Apr 2022
Publication statusPublished - 18 May 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Author contributions AL: conceptualization (equal), data curation (lead), formal analysis (equal), funding acquisition (lead), investigation (lead), methodology (equal), project administration (lead), resources (lead), software (equal), validation (equal), visualization (equal), writing – original draft (lead); writing – review & editing (equal); MM: formal analysis (supporting), methodology (supporting), software (supporting), supervision (supporting), writing – review & editing (supporting); CTES: conceptualization (equal), formal analysis (equal), investigation (supporting), methodology (equal), supervision (lead), writing – original draft (supporting), writing – review & editing (equal) Funding AL acknowledges generous field support from the Open University Ian Gass Bursary and the Edinburgh Geological Society Fieldwork Grant.

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© 2022 The Author(s).


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