Relief variation and erosion of the Variscan belt: detrital geochronology of the Palaeozoic sediments from the Mauges Unit (Armorican Massif, France)

<p>The sediments of the Mauges Unit located in the internal zone provide an opportunity of studying the evolution of relief during Palaeozoic time. U–Pb dating on zircon and <sup>39</sup>Ar/<sup>40</sup>Ar on white mica are used to constrain the age and nature of the sources. The first relief identified is marked by an Early Devonian unconformity interpreted as the opening of a northern back-arc basin. Detrital minerals are first reworked from underlying layers indicating a local supply. Magmatic zircons at <em>c.</em> 400 Ma then record the emergence of a magmatic arc. During the Middle Devonian, the gap in the sedimentary record is attributed to an emersion followed by the disappearance of the relief during the Late Devonian. At the Devonian–Carboniferous boundary, the main collision is followed by the onset of a relief. The continental sedimentation in the Ancenis Basin (late Tournaisian–Viséan) is a coarsening-upwards megasequence indicating an increasing and/or approaching relief. The detrital minerals record the progressive exhumation of Variscan metamorphic (mica at <em>c.</em> 350 Ma) and magmatic rocks (zircons at <em>c.</em> 390–340 Ma). The Serpukhovian–Bashkirian sedimentation records the erosion of a proximal metamorphic source (Champtoceaux with micas at <em>c.</em> 350–340 Ma) showing a much shorter drainage system. </p>