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Geologic units in Suffolk county, Massachusetts

Roxbury Conglomerate (Proterozoic Z to earliest Paleozoic) at surface, covers 51 % of this area

Roxbury Conglomerate - Conglomerate, sandstone, siltstone, argillite, and melaphyre. Consists of Brookline, Dorchester, and Squantum Members. Roxbury Conglomerate forms base of Boston Bay Group. Divided into Brookline, Dorchester, and Squantum Members. Conglomerate in Brookline Member contains clasts of Dedham Granite, quartzite (possibly from Westboro Formation), and volcanic rock from underlying Mattapan Volcanic Complex. Dorchester Member consists of interbedded argillite and sandstone and forms an intermediate unit between Brookline Member and overlying Cambridge Argillite. Uppermost Squantum Member is a distinctive diamictite which appears to pinch out in northern part of basin. Brighton Melaphyre lies within Brookline Member and consists of mafic volcanic rocks (quartz keratophyre, keratophyre, and spilite). Roxbury clearly lies nonconformably on Dedham Granite near Hull, MA; can be traced continuously over Mattapan Volcanic Complex. Age is Proterozoic Z and possibly Early Cambrian (Goldsmith, 1991).

Cambridge Argillite (Proterozoic Z to earliest Paleozoic) at surface, covers 24 % of this area

Cambridge Argillite - Gray argillite and minor quartzite; rare sandstone and conglomerate. Contains acritarchs. Cambridge Argillite of Boston Bay Group contains sandy horizons which are in some places quartzite. Most prominent are Milton quartzite unit of Billings (1976), and Tufts Quartzite Member (described by Billings, 1929, and LaForge, 1932) in northern part of basin. Red sandstone and sandy argillite in Chelsea, Revere, and Milton-Quincy areas intertongue with green argillite (Kaye, 1980). Red beds lie above cleaner quartzites such as Tufts and Milton units. Core analysis by D.A. Ashenden (Metropolitan District Commission, 1980, written commun.) indicates that Cambridge and Braintree Argillites are identical. Age of Boston Bay rocks has been controversial and was once thought to be Cambrian to Pennsylvanian (the latter based on lithologic similarity to rocks of Narragansett basin and now discredited plant fossils). Age of Cambridge and of Boston Bay Group as a whole is Proterozoic Z and possibly Early Cambrian based on presence of acritarchs in Cambridge. Acritarchs are diagnostic species that ranges in age from Proterozoic Z to Early Cambrian, but is most abundant in Proterozoic Z time (Lenk and others, 1982; [also see Goldsmith and others, 1982]). Age is also supported by the following: 1) plant fossils so numerous in strata of Narragansett basin are absent in the Boston Bay Group strata, 2) Late Ordovician and Early Silurian Quincy Granite contains argillite inclusions that are on strike with Cambridge Argillite, and 3) Boston Bay Group stratigraphy is primarily marine, not similar to terrestrial stratigraphy of Narragansett basin (Goldsmith, 1991).

Dedham Granite (Proterozoic Z) at surface, covers 11 % of this area

Dedham Granite - Light grayish-pink to greenish-gray, equigranular to slightly porphyritic, variably altered, granite south and west of Boston. Includes dioritic rock near Scituate and Cohasset and Barefoot Hills Quartz Monzonite of Lyons (1969) and Lyons and Wolfe (1971). Intrudes Zdi, Zgb, Zb, Zv. Extensive calc-alkaline plutons separated by Boston basin have long been mapped as Dedham. Those to the north of Boston and studied in this report, are referred to as Dedham North. Crystallization ages for the Dedham North suite (based on titanites and zircons) have been determined at 607+/-4 Ma, while ages for the Lynn are slightly younger at 596+/-3 Ma. Both are clearly part of the Late Proterozoic magmatic event. Dates on two samples from Sheffield Heights indicate that the diorite and granite are part of the Dedham North suite. The Dedham south and west of Boston has been dated at 630+/15 Ma (Zartman and Naylor, 1984). Dedham North Granite has a compositionally highly variable suite ranging from leucogranites to granodiorites, tonalites, and quartz diorite. The granites originated by partial melting of a sedimentary protolith, while the intermediate members show a mixing of granitic magma and mafic magma (Hepburn and others, 1993).

Mattapan Volcanic Complex (Proterozoic Z or younger) at surface, covers 10 % of this area

Mattapan Volcanic Complex - Rhyolite, melaphyre, agglomerate, and tuff. Mattapan Volcanic Complex is found in west and southwest part of Boston basin and beyond, and to the south in Blue Hills. Similar in lithology to Lynn Volcanic Complex. Both units consist largely of partly porphyritic rhyolite and rhyodacite flows, welded ash-flow tuffs, vitric tuff, lapilli tuff, lithic tuff, flow breccias, breccia pipes, and extrusion domes. Mattapan's rhyolite and rhyodacites are thinner and less varied in composition and texture than Lynn's, and volcanic breccias are absent in Lynn. Both units are reported to lie nonconformably on Dedham Granite and unnamed plutonic-volcanic complex of eastern MA; however, Mattapan has been observed as dikes and stocks cutting Dedham Granite (Billings, 1976; Kaye and Zartman, 1980; Chute, 1966), and other workers have pointed out evidence that some of Mattapan may be penecontemporaneous with younger phases of Dedham batholith. Westwood Granite may be intrusive equivalent of Mattapan. Mattapan is conformably and fairly continuously overlain by Roxbury Conglomerate of Boston Bay Group. LaForge (19832) cautioned against identifying rocks interbedded within Mattapan that look like Roxbury, but are still part of Mattapan. Metavolcanic rocks in Blue Hills resembling Mattapan are assigned to Mattapan on State bedrock map (Zen and others, 1983); for years they were considered to be either Silurian and Devonian, or Carboniferous; however, they are chemically and mineralogically distinct from Ordovician and Silurian Blue Hills [sic] Granite Porphyry. Author follows usage of Chute (1966) who could find no difference between volcanic rocks in Blue Hills area and Mattapan rocks, and thus these rocks are assigned to Mattapan. Proterozoic Z age is based on U-Th-Pb zircon date of 602 +/-3 Ma (Zartman, in Kaye and Zartman, 1980). Although Billings (1979) questions reliability of zircon ages from volcanic rocks, discovery of Proterozoic Z acritarchs in overlying Cambridge Argillite indicates zircon age is appropriate (Goldsmith, 1991).

Lynn Volcanic Complex (Lower Devonian, Silurian, or Proterozoic Z) at surface, covers 0.8 % of this area

Lynn Volcanic Complex - Rhyolite, agglomerate and tuff.

Roxbury Conglomerate (Proterozoic Z to earliest Paleozoic) at surface, covers < 0.1 % of this area

Roxbury Conglomerate - Melaphyre in the Roxbury Conglomerate. Brighton Melaphyre lies within Brookline Member and consists of mafic volcanic rocks (quartz keratophyre, keratophyre, and spilite). Roxbury clearly lies nonconformably on Dedham Granite near Hull, MA; can be traced continuously over Mattapan Volcanic Complex. Age is Proterozoic Z and possibly Early Cambrian (Goldsmith, 1991).