Transactions of the Royal Society of Edinburgh: Earth Sciences

Research Article

Biostratigraphical control of thrust models for the Southern Uplands of Scotland

A. W. A. Rushtona1, P. Stonea2 and R. A. Hughesa2

a1 British Geological Survey, Keyworth, Nottingham NG12 5GG, UK

a2 British Geological Survey, Murchison House, West Mains Road, Edinburgh EH9 3LA, UK

Abstract

Graptolite biostratigraphy affords a robust and relatively accurate means of correlating Ordovician and Silurian hemipelagite and turbidite sequences and has been used to establish the structural development of the regional thrust belt in the Southern Uplands of Scotland. The overall structural pattern has long been recognised: greywackes within individual thrust slices, deposited within a relatively short time-interval, become sequentially younger southwards; each overlies the basal Moffat Shale Group which was deposited over a longer time. However, recent refinement of the graptolite biozonal scheme has allowed the better assessment of along-strike variations within the thrust belt which are here illustrated by two transects; one, based on work in the Rhins of Galloway and the Kirkcudbright areas (SW Southern Uplands), and the other in the Peebles-Hawick area (NE Southern Uplands). The SW transect most closely approximates to the regular pattern wherein a southward-propagating thrust-front incorporated sequentially younger greywacke units. The uniform geometry is interrupted only locally, towards the southern margin of the thrust belt, by a system of back-thrusts producing structural pop-ups. The NE transect departs from this regular model: a northern sector shows the orderly initiation of the thrust belt, but towards the SE a more irregular distribution of the thrust-slice agescan be best explained by outof- sequence movement. This transect also shows more repetitive imbrication of the same biostratigraphic interval than is apparent farther SW. In both transects the fundamental changes in thrustbelt geometry took place from mid-Llandovery times onwards, with a reversion to forward-breaking, in-sequence thrusting at the beginning of the Wenlock. The cause is a matter for speculation, but may be linked withthe accommodation of an obstacle to forward-thrust propagation. However it is recognised that such variationsin thrust geometry are a fundamental feature of most thrust belts and do not require a single regionally significant cause.

(Received April 11 1995)

(Accepted October 31 1995)

Key Words

  • graptolite biostratigraphy;
  • thrust imbrication;
  • out-of-sequence thrusting;
  • Ordovician;
  • Silurian;
  • turbidites;
  • hemipelagites.