- Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2011
New palaeomagnetic and petrographic data are presented from Cambrian rocks of SW Svalbard to test, for the first time, Palaeozoic reconstructions of the major terranes of Svalbard. In the course of thermal demagnetization three ChRM (characteristic remanent magnetization) components were identified, which were labelled HORNL, HORNM and HORNH, respectively, on the basis of their different unblocking temperatures. The HORNM magnetization is related to the Late Ordovician–Silurian formation of the synmetamorphic S1 foliation. The HORNM palaeopole (Φ = −18.5°, Λ = 359°, Dp/Dm = 5.8°/11.4°, Plat = 6°N) matches exactly the Silurian sectors of the Baltica–Laurentia apparent polar wander paths after the closure of Iapetus (455–415 Ma). The 450 Ma 40Ar–39Ar age determination from mica ages obtained from the broad zone of mylonites along the Billefjorden Fault Zone which separates the Central and Eastern terranes, also suggests that the two terranes were eventually amalgamated by 450 Ma. The HORNMVGP also lies very near the palaeopole derived from the Middle Proterozoic rocks of the Eastern Terrane (Ny Friesland), metamorphosed during Caledonian time, suggesting its close proximity to the study area (Central Terrane). The present study has shown that at least two of the major terranes of Svalbard, as defined by previous authors, occupied similar geographical locations by Silurian time, and the previously proposed large-scale Late Devonian left lateral displacements are not supported.