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The Araçuaı́-West-Congo Orogen in Brazil: an overview of a confined orogen formed during Gondwanaland assembly

Precambrian Research
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1016/s0301-9268(01)00174-7
  • Araçuaı́ Belt
  • Brasiliano Orogeny
  • Brazil
  • Gondwanaland Assembly
  • Pan African Orogeny
  • Geography


Abstract The Neoproterozoic Adamastor-Brazilide Ocean was generated during the breakup of the Rodinia supercontinent, and remnants of its oceanic lithosphere have been found in the Brasiliano-Pan African orogenic system that includes the Araçuaı́, West-Congo, Brası́lia, Ribeira, Kaoko, Dom Feliciano, Damara and Gariep belts. The Araçuaı́ and the West-Congo belts are counterparts of the same Neoproterozoic orogen. The first belt comprises two thirds of the Araçuaı́-West-Congo Orogen. This orogen is rather unique owing to its confined nature within the embayment outlined by the São Francisco and Congo cratons. In spite of this, the presence of ophiolitic remnants, and a calc-alkaline magmatic arc, indicate that the basin/orogen evolution comprise both oceanic spreading and consumption. It is assumed that coeval Paramirim and Sangha aulacogens played a key role by making room for the Araçuaı́-West-Congo Basin. Sedimentary successions record all major stages of a basin that evolved from continental rift, when glaciation-related sedimentation was very significant, to passive margin. Rifting started around 1.0–0.9 Ga. The oceanic stage is constrained by an ophiolitic remnant dated at 0.8 Ga. If the cratonic bridge that once linked the São Francisco and Congo palaeocontinental regions did not hinder the opening of an ocean basin, it certainly limited its width. As a consequence, only a narrow oceanic lithosphere was generated, and it was subducted afterwards. This is also suggested by orogenic calc-alkaline granitoids occuping a small area of the orogen. Geochronological data for pre-, syn- and late-collisional granitoids indicate that the orogenic stage lasted from 625 Ma to 570 Ma. A period of magmatic quiescence was followed by intrusion of postcollisional plutons at 535–500 Ma. The features of the Araçuaı́-West-Congo Orogen suggest the development of a complete Wilson Cycle in a branch of the Adamastor Ocean, which can be interpreted as a gulf with limited generation of oceanic lithosphere.

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