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Sedimentary evolution of the siliciclastic Aptian–Albian Massylian flysch of the Chouamat Nappe (central Rif, Morocco)

Journal of African Earth Sciences
DOI: 10.1016/j.jafrearsci.2014.08.004
  • Petrography
  • Geochemistry
  • Provenance
  • Weathering
  • Chouamat Nappe
  • Massylian
  • Chemistry
  • Earth Science


Abstract Sandstone petrography and geochemistry (major, trace and rare earth elements) of the Aptian–Albian siliciclastic Massylian flysch from the Chouamat Nappe (central Rif Morocco) are used to highlight the chemical weathering conditions in the source area and to infer their provenance. Petrographic studies show that the studied samples are mostly quartzarenite, sublitharenite and subarkose generally composed of quartz (up to 99%), K-feldspar (less than 5%) and scarce fragments of sedimentary rocks. The samples plot in the continental block provenance field of the QtFLt diagram. Thus, the compositional maturity of analyzed sandstones is typical of cratonic environments. The sandstone samples shows high SiO2 content (up to 96%) and strong depletion in mobile components such as Na2O, CaO as well as in ferromagnesian minerals, which are mainly related to intense chemical weathering processes in the source area, as confirmed by high Chemical Index of Alteration values (mean=79.8). Recycling is shown by the Th/Sc vs. Zr/Sc plot, where the studied sandstones fall along a trend involving zircon addition and thus sediment recycling. Several geochemical ratios, such as La/Sc, Th/Sc, Th/Co and Th/Cr, of the studied samples are similar to those of Post-Archean Australian Shales and of the Upper Continental Crust, and suggest a provenance from source area(s) mainly composed of plutonic and felsic metasedimentary and sedimentary rocks, which were most probably the basement rocks of the adjacent African plate. These source rocks are related to a large cratonic source region of Eburnean and Pan-African belts, Precambrian (?) and/or Variscan basements of the southeastern margin of the African plate.

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