The role of the Ranotsara Zone in southern Madagascar for Gondwana correlations


The Precambrian basement of southern Madagascar was reworked at high-grade metamorphic conditions during the East African Orogen (EAO of Stern, 1994) that formed during assembly of Gondwana in late Neoproterozoic/early Paleozoic times. At the end of the EAO, Madagascar is generally thought to be sandwiched between southern India and eastern Africa. Constraints on its paleoposition are often inferred from similarities in structural features on now dispersed continental fragments, in particular high-strain zones. Major zones with (sub)vertical foliation planes can be traced over hundreds of kilometres in southern Madagascar and have been interpreted as major vertical ductile shear zones (e.g. Windley et al. 1994; Martelat, 1998). The NW–SE trending Ranotsara Zone (dashed rectangle in Fig. 1) is regarded as an intracrustal mega strike-slip shear zone with a sinistral sense of shear that formed at the end of the Proterozoic (e.g. Nicollet, 1990; de Wit et al., 2001). A large number of studies have used the Ranotsara Zone to propose Gondwana reconstructions. The Ranotsara Zone has been correlated with various ductile shear zones in southern India, e.g. with the Bhavani Shear Zone or the Moyar Shear Zone (Katz & Premoli, 1979), the Palghat-Cauvery Shear Zone (de Wit et al., 1995), the Karur-Kamban- Painavum-Trichur Shear Zone (de Wit et al., 2001; Ghosh et al. 2004) or with the Achankovil Shear Zone (Windley et al., 1994; Martelat, 1998). Within Madagascar, the Ranotsara Zone has been correlated along strike with the more N–S trending Bongolava Zone in central-western Madagascar (Hottin 1976), and the Bongolava- Ranotsara Zone has been further traced into the Surma Shear Zone (Windley et al. 1994) and its along-strike continuation, the Aswa Shear Zone in eastern Africa (Müller 2000). Chetty (2003) suggested that the Ranotsara Zone is not only a mega shear zone, but also a terrane boundary separating a region with Archean crust to the north from a region with Neoproterozoic crust to the south. Our remote sensing and field studies of southern Madagascar indicate that the Ranotsara Zone is neither a major terrane boundary nor an intracrustal mega strike-slip shear zone and therefore can not be used as a ‘piercing point’ in Gondwana reconstructions...
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