Mixed and recycled detrital zircons in the Paleozoic rocks of the Eastern Moroccan Meseta: Paleogeographic inferences

Cristina Accotto, David Jesús Martínez Poyatos, Antonio Azor, Cristina Talavera, Noreen Joyce Evans, Antonio Jabaloy-sánchez, Ali Azdimousa, Abdelfatah Tahiri, Hassan El Hadi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The paleogeographic evolution of the Moroccan Variscides has been a matter of discussion for several decades, with current theories mostly based on classical geological correlations. In this regard, the scarce number of studies devoted to U-Pb geochronological analyses of detrital zircon populations is particularly limiting when trying to ascribe the different domains to a single continental piece either derived from the West African Craton or to different sources, with some located in the Nubian Shield or the Saharan Metacraton. In this work, detrital zircon grains from 10 samples of sandstones from the Paleozoic (Ordovician to Devonian) sequence of the Eastern Meseta and Middle Atlas were dated in order to identify possible sediment sources and elucidate the paleogeography of this easternmost portion of the Moroccan Variscides. The main detrital zircon populations have Ediacaran-Cryogenian ages (610–670 Ma, related to the Cadomian and/or Pan-African orogeny) and middle Paleoproterozoic ages (1980–2080 Ma, related to the Eburnean orogeny), which are in agreement with previous data from the Western Meseta, suggesting similarity between both Mesetas, and strong West African Craton affinity. Such an affinity verifies the most accepted paleogeographic interpretation considering that the Moroccan Mesetas remained attached to northern Gondwana during the entire Paleozoic period. The main differences between our samples and those from the Western Meseta concern the minor detrital zircon populations, such as the Cambro-Ordovician and the Tonian-Stenian ones. In particular, Eastern Meseta and Middle Atlas samples lack a Cambro-Ordovician detrital zircon population, usually interpreted as related to the rifting that opened the Rheic Ocean. This population is locally reported in the Western Meseta and widely described in southwestern Europe, where magmatism of this age is well known. Furthermore, the most northeastern samples are also characterized by a Tonian-Stenian detrital zircon population (up to 30% of the data), which might imply northeastern African sources (Saharan Metacraton and/or Arabian-Nubian Shield).
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)73-86
Early online date16 Apr 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2019


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