This work describes and interprets the presence of heavy minerals in the WNW Portuguese continental margin using a set of 78 bottom samples collected from three distinct areas of this margin: the Porto, Aveiro, and Nazaré canyon head areas. The main transparent heavy mineral assemblage (mineral grains with frequencies ≥1% identified under a petrographic microscope) is composed of amphibole, andalusite, tourmaline, biotite, garnet, staurolite, pyroxene, zircon, and apatite. The felsic igneous and metamorphic rock outcrops in the main Northern Portuguese river basins and the relict sedimentary continental shelf deposits explained the presence of most of these mineral grains (both considered as distal sources). However, the presence of pargasite, augite, diopside-hedenbergite, enstatite-ferrosilite, and forsterite in the Porto and Aveiro areas (minerals identified by electronic microprobe analysis) is probably related to the presence of an igneous basic source next to dolomitic limestones affected by thermal metamorphism. These geological formations are considered as local sources. The high concentration of biotite observed in the Nazaré area is the result of the selective transport of the most lamellar sand particles of this mineral.
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