The emplacement of the Trawenagh Bay Granite and a new model for the emplacement of the Donegal Batholith

Carl Stevenson, Donald Hutton, AR Price

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The Trawenagh Bay Granite (TBG) is shown to be a tabular pluton with gently inclined contacts that, from anisotropy of magnetic susceptibility (AMS) studies, was emplaced as a series of flow lobes whose geometries indicate that it flowed horizontally towards the W out of Late stage adjacent steeply inclined monzogranite sheets of the Main Donegal Granite (MDG). We thus confirm in detail the central broad idea of the Pitcher & Read (1959) model that the Main Donegal Granite fed the Trawenagh Bay Granite. Early TBG flow lobes cut and are cut by deformation associated with the sinistral shear zone in which the MDG lies, thus demonstrating synchronicity of shearing and magmatism. The TBG magma leaked out of the shear zone and emplaced into undeformed country rocks and was probably guided by shear zone splays that die out along its northern and southern margins. At a late stage in the development of MDG, the splays developed from the NNE-trending SW boundary of the shear zone and Caused a gap in this structure through which TBG magma was channelled out of the MDG. A review is presented of the last twenty-five years of published and unpublished work on the batholith, showing that the MDG shear zone was a long-lived structure almost certainly in existence before the emplacement of that body, and that four of the contiguous granitiods (Thorr, Ardara, and Rosses, as well as Trawenagh Bay) were all sourced within the shear zone. A new model is presented for the development of the batholith. The pre-existing crustal Structure was a deep-seated N12 degrees E fault in the basement to the Dalradian wall rocks of the granites, that was coupled to Lip to six other more minor WNW-ESE basement faults in the W. A NE-SW-trending sinistral shear zone was initiated at the end of the Caledonian orogeny, as calc-alkaline and deep-seated appinites were generated in the area. This shearing activated the pre-existing structures at the current crustal level, and the N12 degrees E structure acted Lis a continental transform fault which allowed the dilation needed to facilitate the wedging space requirements of the MDG and the other units in the shear zone, Lis well as transferring regional sinistral shear through the system. The Thorr and Ardara plutons were emplaced first into the shear zone and then those magmas leaked out into the adjacent wall rocks: one to form a large laccolith, the other to form a balloon. Steep early MDG complex sheets (granodiorites and tonalities) were emplaced in the shear zone between the Thorr and Ardara emplacement sites. Dilation continued until late stage extensive monzogranite sheets were intruded in the NW and SE of the pluton. One of these probably leaked material westward to form the Rosses laccolith and southwestwards to form the TBG in the final stages of shear zone movement.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)455-477
Number of pages23
JournalTransactions of the Royal Society of Edinburgh Earth Sciences
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2008


  • granite emplacement
  • Main Donegal Granite
  • ascent and emplacement
  • shear zone
  • pluton definition
  • laccolith


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