A new perspective on the significance of the Ranotsara shear zone in Madagascar

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Guido Schreurs, Jörg Giese, Alfons Berger, Edwin Gnos

The Ranotsara shear zone in Madagascar has been considered in previous studies to be a >350-km-long, intracrustal strike-slip shear zone of Precambrian/Cambrian age. Because of its oblique strike to the east and west coast of Madagascar, the Ranotsara shear zone has been correlated with shear zones in southern India and eastern Africa in Gondwana reconstructions. Our assessment using remote sensing data and field-based investigations, however, reveals that what previously has been interpreted as the Ranotsara shear zone is in fact a composite structure with a ductile deflection zone confined to its central segment and prominent NW-SE trending brittle faulting along most of its length. We therefore prefer the more neutral term "Ranotsara Zone". Lithologies, tectonic foliations, and axial trace trajectories of major folds can be followed from south to north across most of the Ranotsara Zone and show only a marked deflection along its central segment. The ductile deflection zone is interpreted as a result of E-W indentation of the Antananarivo Block into the less rigid, predominantly metasedimentary rocks of the Southwestern Madagascar Block during a late phase of the Neoproterozoic/Cambrian East African Orogeny (c. 550-520 Ma). The Ranotsara Zone shows significant NW-SE striking brittle faulting that reactivates part of the NW-SE striking ductile structures in the flexure zone, but also extends along strike toward the NW and toward the SE. Brittle reactivation of ductile structures along the central segment of the Ranotsara Zone, confirmed by apatite-fission track results, may have led to the formation of a shallow Neogene basin underlying the Ranotsara plain. The present-day drainage pattern suggests on-going normal fault activity along the central segment. The Ranotsara Zone is not a megascale intracrustal strike-slip shear zone that crosscuts the entire basement of southern Madagascar. It can therefore not be used as a piercing point in Gondwana reconstructions
Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Earth Sciences
Volume99
Pages (from-to)1827-1847
ISSN1437-3254
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2010

    Research areas

  • The Faculty of Science - Ranotsara shear zone, Madagascar, Tectonics, Gondwana, East African Orogen, Apatite fission-track dating

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