New GSA Bulletin Articles Published Online Ahead of Print in March

Boulder, Colo., USA: The Geological Society of America regularly publishes articles online ahead of print. For March, GSA Bulletin topics include multiple articles about the dynamics of China and Tibet; the ups and downs of the Missouri River; the Los Rastros Formation, Argentina; the Olympic Mountains of Washington State; methane seep deposits; meandering rivers; and the northwest Hawaiian Ridge. You can find these articles at .

Transition from a passive to active continental margin setting for the NE Asian continental margin during the Mesozoic: Insights from the sedimentary formations and paleogeography of the eastern Jiamusi Massif, NE China
Yini Wang; Wenliang Xu; Feng Wang
Abstract: The Mesozoic tectonic evolution of the NE Asian continental margin has received much attention in recent years. However, previous studies focused mainly on the petrogenesis of igneous rocks and their relationship with Mesozoic tectonics, and there have been few studies of the Mesozoic sedimentary formations of the NE Asian continental margin. We combined zircon U-Pb ages with Hf isotopic and biostratigraphic data to reconstruct the Mesozoic paleogeography of the NE Asian continental margin. The results indicate that Mesozoic strata of the eastern Jiamusi Massif, NE China, include the Upper Triassic Nanshuangyashan Formation (Norian), Lower Jurassic volcanic rocks, and Lower Cretaceous Longzhaogou Group. The Upper Triassic Nanshuangyashan Formation consists of a suite of alternating marine and terrestrial sedimentary rocks with abundant fossils that formed in a passive continental margin setting. The Lower Jurassic strata comprise a suite of calc-alkaline volcanic rocks that include basaltic andesites, andesites, and rhyolites that formed in an active continental margin setting related to initial subduction of the Paleo-Pacific Plate beneath Eurasia. The Lower Cretaceous Longzhaogou Group belong to alternating marine and terrestrial sedimentary formations that formed in an active continental margin setting related to subduction of the Paleo-Pacific Plate. Here, we integrate these data to reconstruct the Mesozoic tectonic history of the NE Asian continental margin, which comprises a Late Triassic passive continental margin, the initiation of subduction of the Paleo-Pacific Plate in the Early Jurassic, and westward subduction and rollback of the Paleo-Pacific Plate in the Early Cretaceous.
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Low-δ18O A-type granites in SW China: Evidence for the interaction between the subducted Paleotethyan slab and the Emeishan mantle plume
Jian Xu; Xiao-Ping Xia; Qiang Wang; Christopher J. Spencer; Bin He ...
Abstract: The mechanisms and processes by which subducted slab interacted with mantle plume remain controversial, as direct observation of such interaction is difficult to impossible. Compositional heterogeneity of large igneous provinces (LIPs) additionally makes plume-slab interaction hard to detect. Oxygen isotopes are sensitive enough to trace the source of magmas. Here we provide evidence for plume-slab interaction mainly based on in situ zircon Hf-O isotope analyses, as well as whole-rock elemental and Sr-Nd-Hf isotope analyses, on the Late Permian and Early Triassic A-type granites on the margin of the Emeishan LIP in SW China. These granites show typical A-type geochemical characters, such as high total alkali (7.93−9.68 wt%) and field strength element (HFSE, e.g., Zr and Nb) contents, and high FeOT /(FeOT+MgO) (0.87−0.98) and Ga/Al (3.67−5.06) values. The Late Permian (ca. 259 Ma) and Early Triassic (ca. 248 Ma) granites show high Nb/Th (>3.0) and low Y/Nb (<1.2) and Yb/Ta (<2.0) ratios similar to the oceanic island basalts and have near-zero εNd(t) (−0.83 to −0.13 and −0.15 to +0.16, respectively) and depleted εHf(t) (+2.71 to +3.39 and +2.62 to +3.55, respectively). In situ zircon O-Hf analyses yielded anomalously low δ18O (0.2−2.0‰ and 3.2−4.8‰, respectively) and positive εHf(t) (1.6−7.0 and 3.9−8.8, respectively), suggesting varying proportions of hydrothermally altered oceanic crust in their source region. Our results imply that significant amounts of altered Paleotethyan oceanic crust have been subducted in the upper mantle beneath the western South China Block. The nearby rising Emeishan mantle plume may have rapidly entrained and incorporated these oceanic crustal materials to the shallow mantle so that their low-δ 18O isotope feature was preserved. Subsequent decompression-related partial melting of this hybrid source formed parental rocks of the low-δ18O A-type granites. Our findings also suggest that LIPs could obtain their compositional (especially oxygen isotope) diversity through the interaction between the subducting slab and rising mantle plume.
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The ups and downs of the Missouri River from Pleistocene to present: Impact of climatic change and forebulge migration on river profiles, river course, and valley fill complexity
Justin Anderson; John Holbrook; Ronald J. Goble
Abstract: The Missouri River is a continent-scale river that has thus far escaped a rigorous reporting of valley fill trends within its trunk system. This study summarizes evolution of the lower Missouri River profile from the time of outwash in the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM) until establishment of the modern dominantly precipitation-fed river. This work relies on optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) dating, water-well data, and a collection of surficial geological maps of the valley compiled from U.S. Geological Survey EDMAP and National Science Foundation Research Experience for Undergrads projects. Mapping reveals five traceable surfaces within valley fill between Yankton, South Dakota, USA, and Columbia, Missouri, USA, that record two cycles of incision and aggradation between ca. 23 ka and ca. 8 ka. The river aggraded during the LGM to form the Malta Bend surface by ca. 26 ka. The Malta Bend surface is buried and fragmented but presumed to record a braided outwash plain. The Malta Bend surface was incised up to 18 m between ca. 23 ka and ca. 16 ka to form the Carrolton surface (ca. 16 ka to ca. 14 ka). The Carrollton surface ghosts a braided outwash morphology locally through overlying mud. Aggradation followed (ca. 14 ka to ca. 13.5 ka) to within 4 m of the modern floodplain surface and generated the Salix surface (ca. 13.5 to ca. 12 ka). By Salix time, the Missouri River was no longer an outwash river and formed a single-thread meandering pattern. Reincision at ca. 12 ka followed Salix deposition to form the short-lived Vermillion surface at approximately the grade of the earlier Carrolton surface. Rapid aggradation from ca. 10 ka to ca. 8 ka followed and formed the modern Omaha surface (ca. 8 ka to Present). The higher Malta Bend and Omaha profiles are at roughly the same grade, as are the lower Carrolton and Vermillion surfaces. The Salix surface is in between. All surfaces converge downstream as they enter the narrow and shallow bedrock valley just before reaching Columbia, Missouri. The maximum departure of the profiles is 18 m near Sioux City, Iowa, USA, at ∼100 km downstream from the James Lobe glacial input near Yankton, South Dakota. Incision and aggradation appear to be driven by relative changes in input of sediment and water related to glacial advance and retreat and then later by climatic changes near the Holocene transition. The incision from the Malta Bend to the Carrolton surface records the initial breakdown of the cryosphere at the end of the LGM, and this same incisional event is found in both the Ohio and Mississippi valleys. This incisional event records a “big wash” that resulted in the evacuation of sediment from each of the major outwash rivers of North America. The direction and magnitude of incision from the LGM to the modern does not fit with modeled glacioisostatic adjustment trends for the Missouri Valley. Glaciotectonics likely influenced the magnitude of incision and aggradation secondarily but does not appear to have controlled the overall timing or magnitude of either. Glaciotectonic valley tilting during the Holocene, however, did likely cause the Holocene channel to consistently migrate away from the glacial front, which argues for a forebulge axis south of the Missouri Valley during the Holocene and, by inference, earlier. This is at least 200 km south of where models predict the Holocene forebulge axis. The Missouri Valley thus appears to reside in the tectonic low between the ice front and the forebulge crest. The buffer valley component of incision caused by profile variation could explain as much as 25 m of the total ∼40 m of valley incision at Sioux City, Iowa. The Missouri Valley also hosted a glacial lobe as far south as Sioux City, Iowa, in pre-Wisconsinan time, which is also a factor in valley excavation.
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Segmentation of the Wassuk Range normal fault system, Nevada (USA): Implications for earthquake rupture and Walker Lane dynamics
Ben Surpless; Sarah Thorne
Abstract: Normal faults are commonly segmented along strike, with segments that localize strain and influence propagation of slip during earthquakes. Although the geometry of segments can be constrained by fault mapping, it is challenging to determine seismically relevant segments along a fault zone. Because slip histories, geometries, and strengths of linkages between normal fault segments fundamentally control the propagation of rupture during earthquakes, and differences in segment slip rates result in differential uplift of adjacent footwalls, we used along-strike changes in footwall morphology to detect fault segments and the relative strength of the mechanical links between them. We applied a new geomorphic analysis protocol to the Wassuk Range fault, Nevada, within the actively deforming Walker Lane. The protocol examines characteristics of footwall morphology, including range-crest continuity, bedrock-channel long profiles, catchment area variability, and footwall relief, to detect changes in strike-parallel footwall characteristics. Results revealed six domains with significant differences in morphology that we used to identify seismically relevant fault segments and segment boundaries. We integrated our results with previous studies to determine relative strength of links between the six segments, informing seismic hazard assessment. When combined with recent geodetic studies, our results have implications for the future evolution of the Walker Lane, suggesting changes in the accommodation of strain across the region. Our analysis demonstrates the power of this method to efficiently detect along-strike changes in footwall morphology related to fault behavior, permitting future researchers to perform reconnaissance assessment of normal fault segmentation worldwide.
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Widespread hydrothermal vents and associated volcanism record prolonged Cenozoic magmatism in the South China Sea
Fang Zhao; Christian Berndt; Tiago M. Alves; Shaohong Xia; Lin Li ...
Abstract: The continental margin of the northern South China Sea is considered to be a magma-poor rifted margin. This work uses new seismic, bathymetric, gravity, and magnetic data to reveal how extensively magmatic processes have reshaped the latter continental margin. Widespread hydrothermal vent complexes and magmatic edifices such as volcanoes, igneous sills, lava flows, and associated domes are confirmed in the broader area of the northern South China Sea. Newly identified hydrothermal vents have crater- and mound-shaped surface expressions, and occur chiefly above igneous sills and volcanic edifices. Detailed stratigraphic analyses of volcanoes and hydrothermal vents suggest that magmatic activity took place in discrete phases between the early Miocene and the Quaternary. Importantly, the occurrence of hydrothermal vents close to the present seafloor, when accompanied by shallow igneous sills, suggest that fluid seepage is still active, well after main phases of volcanism previously documented in the literature. After combining geophysical and geochemical data, this study postulates that the extensive post-rift magmatism in the northern South China Sea is linked to the effect of a mantle plume over a long time interval. We propose that prolonged magmatism resulted in contact metamorphism in carbon-rich sediments, producing large amounts of hydrothermal fluid along the northern South China Sea. Similar processes are expected in parts of magma-poor margins in association with CO 2/CH4 and heat flow release into sea water and underlying strata.
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Tectonically conditioned record of continental interior paleoclimate during the Carnian Pluvial Episode: The Upper Triassic Los Rastros Formation, Argentina
C.A. Benavente; A.C. Mancuso; R.B. Irmis; K.M. Bohacs; S. Matheos
Abstract: Discerning paleoclimate parameters in depositional systems of the continental interior is challenging because the system response and stratigraphic record of climate are controlled by tectonic processes and are mediated through landscape and hydrological evolution of fluvial lacustrine systems. Climate and tectonic signals cannot be deconvolved from stratigraphic patterns alone but require additional information or data sets that directly record climate or tectonic influence. The Carnian Los Rastros Formation in northwest Argentina provides an excellent case study that integrates an appropriate range of information in a system with strong climate and tectonic signals, being deposited in part during the Carnian Pluvial Episode and spanning the active rift phase of the Ischigualasto−Villa Unión Basin. We examined the stratigraphic and spatial patterns of carbon (C) and oxygen (O) stable isotopes in lacustrine carbonates from the Los Rastros Formation in multiple parts of the basin to constrain paleohydrological conditions and paleotemperatures. Practically all C and O isotope values are characterized by negative values: δ 18Ocarb −11.6‰ and −15.7‰ (χ average −13.1‰; 1σ = 1.6) and δ13Ccarb −2.6‰ to −8.0‰ (χ average −5.1‰; 1σ = 2.1), reflecting the latitude, altitude, and continentality of the lake system and its vegetated and humid catchment area. Stratigraphic patterns of stable isotope data from two different localities (Cerro Bola North and Cerro Bola South) show a change from short water-residence time to long residence time and back to short residence time. This contrasts with sedimentologic, organic geochemical, and small-scale stratigraphic patterns that indicate an overfilled lake basin, which is expected to contain a completely open-hydrology isotopic signature. Paleotemperatures calculated from marginal lacustrine carbonates show a warm and quite variable paleothermal range consonant with their continental interior position and with Global Climate Model estimates for high paleolatitudes. Warmer paleotemperatures (linked to aridity, probably smaller lake size, and less thermal mass) precede the Carnian Pluvial Episode, whereas relatively cooler paleotemperatures coincide with the Carnian Pluvial Episode (linked to humidity, probably larger lake size, and more thermal mass). Carbon and oxygen stable isotope signatures integrated with sedimentologic and physiographic information allow us to propose that tectonics, specifically, half-graben tilting during the active synrift phase, dominated over climate effects as the cause of hydrological fluctuations of this system, even during the Carnian Pluvial Episode. Without appropriate stratigraphic-tectonic context, single-proxy reconstructions of continental-interior paleoclimate can be misleading. A robust interpretation of climate effects requires characterization of tectonic effects, geomorphology, paleohydrology, and sedimentary system responses.
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An intracontinental orogen exhumed by basement-slice imbrication in the Longmenshan Thrust Belt of the Eastern Tibetan Plateau
Zhenhua Xue; Wei Lin; Yang Chu; Michel Faure; Yan Chen ...
Abstract: The Longmenshan Thrust Belt in Eastern Tibet resulted from a Mesozoic orogeny and Cenozoic reworking. It is generally believed that the Cenozoic tectonics along the Longmenshan Thrust Belt are mostly inherited from the Mesozoic. Reconstructing the Mesozoic tectonics of the Longmenshan Thrust Belt is therefore important for understanding its evolutionary history. On the basis of detailed structural analysis, we recognized a Main Central Boundary that divides the Longmenshan Thrust Belt into a Southeastern Zone and a Northwestern Zone. Both zones underwent a main D1 event characterized by D1E top-to-the-SE thrusting in the Southeastern Zone and D1W top-to-the-NW/N thrusting in the Northwestern Zone. In the Southeastern Zone, a D2 top-to-the-NW/N normal faulting that cuts the D1E structures is developed along the NW boundary of the basement complexes. Newly obtained and previous geochronological data indicate that the D1E and D1W events occurred synchronously at ca. 224−219 Ma, and the D2 top-to-the-NW/N normal faulting was episodically activated at ca. 166−160 Ma, 141−120 Ma, 81−47 Ma, and 27−25 Ma. Episodic and synchronously activated top-to-the-NW normal faulting and top-to-the-SE thrusting along the northwestern and southeastern boundaries of the basement complexes, respectively, leads us to propose that the basement slices were episodically imbricated to the SE during the Late Jurassic−Early Cretaceous and Late Cretaceous−earliest Paleocene. The D1 amphibolite facies metamorphic rocks above the basement complexes recorded fast exhumation during the Late Jurassic−Early Cretaceous. We propose that the early Mesozoic northwestward basement underthrusting along a crustal “weak zone” was responsible for the D 1 double-vergent thrusting and amphibolite facies metamorphism. Subsequent basement-slice imbrications reworked the Longmenshan Thrust Belt and exhumed the amphibolite facies rocks. Our results highlight the importance of basement underthrusting and imbrication in the formation and reworking of the intracontinental Longmenshan Thrust Belt in Eastern Tibet.
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Mo isotope records from Lower Cambrian black shales, northwestern Tarim Basin (China): Implications for the early Cambrian ocean
Guangyou Zhu; Tingting Li; Kun Zhao; Chao Li; Meng Cheng ...
Abstract: The widely developed black shales deposited during the early Cambrian recorded paleoenvironmental information about coeval seawater. Numerous studies have been conducted on these shales to reconstruct the paleomarine environment during this time period. However, most research has been conducted on stratigraphic sections in South China, and equivalent studies of sections from other cratons are relatively rare. Here, we report Mo isotopic compositions as well as redox-sensitive trace-element and iron (Fe) speciation data for black shales of the Lower Cambrian Yuertusi Formation from the Tarim block (i.e., a small craton). The Fe speciation data show high FeHR/FeT and Fepy/Fe HR ratios, indicating roughly sustained euxinic bottom-water conditions during their deposition. Based on Mo isotopic compositions (δ 98/95Mo), we further classified the euxinic black shales into two intervals: a lower interval (0−21.3 m) and an upper interval (21.3−32.3 m). The lower interval is characterized by variable Mo isotopic compositions (−2.12‰ to +0.57‰, mean = −0.52‰ ± 0.72‰), with an obvious negative excursion in its middle portion. The overlying upper interval has relatively heavy δ98/95Mo values up to +1.42‰ (mean = +0.62‰ ± 0.37‰). We ascribe δ98/95Mo differences in the lower and upper intervals to inadequate aqueous H2S concentrations for quantitative thiomolybdate formation under euxinic conditions. The most negative Mo isotope excursion may have been caused by upwelling hydrothermal inputs during a transgression, consistent with significantly elevated total organic carbon (TOC) contents, Mo and U enrichments, and Fe supply. Relatively positive δ98/95Mo values in the upper interval have roughly similar variations with other coeval sections, indicating such variations were common for early Cambrian euxinic deposits, and they were most likely caused by local differences in [H2S] aq. Compilation of Mo isotope data from the early Cambrian and earlier times further indicates relatively oxygenated seawater, especially the deep-marine areas during the early Cambrian before reaching a state like modern seawater.
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Quantitative analysis of the sedimentary architecture of eolian successions developed under icehouse and greenhouse climatic conditions
Grace I.E. Cosgrove; Luca Colombera; Nigel P. Mountney
Abstract: The continental terrestrial record preserves an archive of how ancient sedimentary systems respond to and record changes in global climate. A database-driven quantitative assessment reveals differences in the preserved sedimentary architectures of siliciclastic eolian systems with broad geographic and stratigraphic distribution that developed under icehouse versus greenhouse climatic conditions. Over 5600 geological entities, including architectural elements, facies, sediment textures, and bounding surfaces, have been analyzed from 34 eolian systems of Paleoproterozoic to Cenozoic ages. Statistical analyses have been performed on the abundance, composition, preserved thickness, and arrangement of different eolian lithofacies, architectural elements, and bounding surfaces. Results demonstrate that preserved sedimentary architectures of icehouse and greenhouse systems differ markedly. Eolian dune, sand sheet, and interdune architectural elements that accumulated under icehouse conditions are significantly thinner relative to their greenhouse counterparts; this is observed across all basin settings, supercontinents, geological ages, and dune field physiographic settings. However, this difference between icehouse and greenhouse eolian systems is exclusively observed for paleolatitudes <30°, which suggests that climate-induced changes in the strength and circulation patterns of trade winds may have partly controlled eolian sand accumulation. These changes acted in combination with variations in water table levels, sand supply, and sand transport, ultimately influencing the nature of long-term sediment preservation. During icehouse episodes, Milankovitch cyclicity resulted in deposits typified by glacial accumulation and interglacial deflation. Greenhouse conditions promoted the accumulation of eolian elements into the geological record due to elevated water tables and biogenic- and chemical-stabilizing agents, which could protect deposits from wind-driven deflation. In the context of a rapidly changing climate, the results presented here can help predict the impact of climate change on Earth surface processes.
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Late Eocene post-collisional magmatic rocks from the southern Qiangtang terrane record the melting of pre-collisional enriched lithospheric mantle
Yue Qi; Qiang Wang; Gang-jian Wei; Xiu-Zheng Zhang; Wei Dan ...
Abstract: Diverse rock types and contrasting geochemical compositions of post-collisional mafic rocks across the Tibetan Plateau indicate that the underlying enriched lithospheric mantle is heterogeneous; however, how these enriched mantle sources were formed is still debated. The accreted terranes within the Tibetan Plateau experienced multiple stages of evolution. To track the geochemical characteristics of their associated lithospheric mantle through time, we can use mantle-derived magmas to constrain the mechanism of mantle enrichment. We report zircon U-Pb ages, major and trace element contents, and Sr-Nd isotopic compositions for Early Cretaceous and late Eocene mafic rocks in the southern Qiangtang terrane. The Early Cretaceous Baishagang basalts (107.3 Ma) are characterized by low K2O/Na2O (<1.0) ratios, arc-like trace element patterns, and uniform Sr-Nd isotopic compositions [(87Sr/ 86Sr)i = 0.7067−0.7073, εNd(t) = −0.4 to −0.2]. We suggest that the Baishagang basalts were derived from partial melting of enriched lithospheric mantle that was metasomatized by subducted Bangong−Nujiang oceanic material. We establish the geochemistry of the pre-collisional enriched lithospheric mantle under the southern Qiangtang terrane by combining our data with those from other Early Cretaceous mafic rocks in the region. The late Eocene (ca. 35 Ma) post-collisional rocks in the southern Qiangtang terrane have low K2O/Na2O (<1.0) ratios, and their major element, trace element, and Sr-Nd isotopic compositions [(87Sr/86Sr)i = 0.7042−0.7072, εNd(t) = −4.5 to +1.5] are similar to those of the Early Cretaceous mafic rocks. Based on the distribution, melting depths, and whole-rock geochemical compositions of the Early Cretaceous and late Eocene mafic rocks, we argue that the primitive late Eocene post-collisional rocks were derived from pre-collisional enriched lithospheric mantle, and the evolved samples were produced by assimilation and fractional crystallization of primary basaltic magma. Asthenosphere upwelling in response to the removal of lithospheric mantle induced the partial melting of enriched lithospheric mantle at ca. 35 Ma.
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Reappraisal of the Mesozoic tectonic transition from the Paleo-Tethyan to Paleo-Pacific domains in South China
Chengshi Gan; Yuzhi Zhang; Yuejun Wang; Xin Qian; Yang Wang

Abstract: The southeastern (SE) South China Block was mainly influenced by the Paleo-Tethyan and Paleo-Pacific dynamic domains during the Mesozoic. The initial timing of the tectonic transition between these two domains in the SE South China Block still remains debated. The transition would affect the nature of the lithosphere and material provenance of sediments, and, therefore, igneous and sedimentary rocks in the area could record such dynamic processes. In this study, published geochronological and geochemical data of the Triassic and Jurassic igneous rocks and detrital zircon data of contemporaneous sedimentary rocks in the SE South China Block were compiled, aiming to provide constraints on the tectonic transition via tracing the spatial-temporal variations in the nature of the lithosphere and sedimentary provenance signals. The compiled results suggest that the magmatic intensity and volume decreased significantly from the Late Triassic to Early−Middle Jurassic, with an obvious magmatic quiescence between them, and increased from the Early−Middle Jurassic to Late Jurassic. The εNd(t) and zircon εHf(t) values of mafic rocks, granitoids, and shoshonitic rocks remarkably increased from the Late Triassic to Early−Middle Jurassic, indicative of variations in the lithospheric mantle and continental crust. Such variations suggest that the initial tectonic transition occurred at the earliest Early Jurassic. Based on the southward paleocurrents from Early Jurassic sandstone, E-W−trending extension of Early−Middle Jurassic mafic and shoshonitic rocks, and similar sedimentary provenances of Late Triassic and Early−Middle Jurassic sedimentary rocks, these features imply that the SE South China Block was not immediately influenced by the Paleo-Pacific domain during the Early−Middle Jurassic. However, from the Early−Middle Jurassic to Late Jurassic and Early Cretaceous, the spatial distribution, geochemical signatures, magmatic intensity, and magmatic volume of igneous rocks and provenance of sedimentary rocks exhibit obvious variations, and the regional fold hinge direction changed from E-W−trending to NE-trending, suggesting significant effects from Paleo-Pacific subduction on the SE South China Block. Thus, the Mesozoic tectonic transition from the Paleo-Tethyan to the Paleo-Pacific dynamic domain in the SE South China Block likely occurred during the Early−Middle Jurassic.
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Two key switches in regional stress field during multi-stage deformation in the Carboniferous−Triassic southernmost Altaids (Beishan, NW China): Response to orocline-related roll-back processes
Zhonghua Tian; Wenjiao Xiao; Brian F. Windley; Peng Huang; Ji’en Zhang ...
Abstract: The orogenic architecture of the Altaids of Central Asia was created by multiple large-scale slab roll-back and oroclinal bending. However, no regional structural deformation related to roll-back processes has been described. In this paper, we report a structural study of the Beishan orogenic collage in the southernmost Altaids, which is located in the southern wing of the Tuva-Mongol Orocline. Our new field mapping and structural analysis integrated with an electron backscatter diffraction study, paleontology, U-Pb dating, 39Ar-40Ar dating, together with published isotopic ages enables us to construct a detailed deformation-time sequence: During D1 times many thrusts were propagated northwards. In D2 there was ductile sinistral shearing at 336−326 Ma. In D3 times there was top-to-W/WNW ductile thrusting at 303−289 Ma. Two phases of folding were defined as D4 and D5. Three stages of extensional events (E1−E3) separately occurred during D1−D 5. Two switches of the regional stress field were identified in the Carboniferous to Early Permian (D1-E1-D 2-D3-E2) and Late Permian to Early Triassic (D4-E3-D5). These two switches in the stress field were associated with formation of bimodal volcanic rocks, and an extensional interarc basin with deposition of Permian-Triassic sediments, which can be related to two stages of roll-back of the subduction zone on the Paleo-Asian oceanic margin. We demonstrate for the first time that two key stress field switches were responses to the formation of the Tuva-Mongol Orocline.
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Structural styles, deformation, and uplift of the Olympic Mountains, Washington: Implications for accretionary wedge deformation
M. James Aldrich
Abstract: The Olympic subduction complex is the exposed subaerial Cascadia accretionary wedge in the Olympic Mountains of Washington State. Uplift of the mountains has been attributed to two competing models: margin-normal deformation from frontal accretion and underplating, and margin-parallel deformation from the clockwise rotation and northward movement of the Oregon Coast Range block compressing the Olympic Mountains block against the Canadian Coast Range. East-northeast−oriented folds and Quaternary thrust faults and paleostress analysis of faults in the Coastal Olympic subduction complex, west of the subduction complex massif, provide new evidence for north-south shortening in the Coastal Olympic subduction complex that fills a large spatial gap in the north-south shortening documented in prior studies, substantially strengthening the block rotation model. These new data, together with previous studies that document north-south shortening in the subduction complex and at numerous locations in the Coast Range terrane peripheral to the complex, indicate that margin-parallel deformation of the Cascadia forearc has contributed significantly to uplift of the Olympic Mountains. Coastal Olympic subduction complex shallow-level fold structural style and deformation mechanisms provide a template for analyzing folding processes in other accretionary wedges. Similar-shaped folds in shallow-level Miocene turbidite sediments of the Coastal Olympic subduction complex formed in two shortening phases not previously recognized in accretionary wedges. Folds began forming by bed-parallel flow of sediment into developing hinges. When the strata could no longer accommodate shortening by flexural flow, further shortening was taken up by flexural slip. Similar-shaped folds in the deeper accretionary wedge rocks of the subduction complex massif have a well-developed axial-surface cleavage that facilitated shear folding with sediment moving parallel to the axial surface into the hinges, a structural style that is common to accretionary wedges. The pressure-temperature conditions and depth at which the formation of similar folds transitions from bed-parallel to axial-surface−parallel deformation are bracketed.
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Late Paleogene paleotopographic evolution of the northern Cordilleran orogenic front: Implications for demise of the orogen
Majie Fan; Kurt N. Constenius; Rachel F. Phillips; David L. Dettman
Abstract: The paleotopographic history of the North American Cordilleran orogen holds the key to understanding mechanisms of orogenesis and subsequent orogenic collapse. It has been suggested that the orogenic front in western Montana (USA) and Alberta (Canada) was more than 4 km high during Late Cretaceous−early Eocene contractional deformation and during the initial phase of extension in the middle Eocene; however, the late Eocene−Oligocene topographic evolution during continued extensional collapse remains poorly constrained. Here we extend the paleotopographic record in the Kishenehn Basin in northwestern Montana and southeastern British Columbia (Canada) to the late Oligocene by studying δ18O values of fossil mollusks and cement and paleosol carbonates. The molluscan taxa changed from three sympatric groups with preferred habitats ranging from tropical wet, semi-arid subtropical, and temperate during the middle and late Eocene, to mainly a single group associated with temperate environment during the Oligocene, reflecting a decline in molluscan biodiversity induced by climate cooling across the Eocene−Oligocene transition. Reconstructed δ 18O values of alpine snowmelt and basinal precipitation decreased by 1.4‰ and 3.8‰, respectively, from the middle to late Eocene, reflecting climate cooling and ∼1 km surface uplift of the basin floor. The reconstructed alpine snowmelt δ18O values then increased by 2.9‰ in the Oligocene suggesting a ∼0.5 km drop in elevation of the orogenic front. Collectively, the results of our new and previously published δ 18O data chronicle the paleotopographic response to the change from flat-slab subduction to slab rollback over a 45 m.y. period. These data suggest that the orogenic front was characterized by high elevation (>4 km) in the ancestral Lewis-Clark-Livingston ranges during latest Cretaceous−early Eocene (ca. 75−52 Ma) contraction. The initial phase of extension related to the Kishenehn Basin created a lowland basin with a surface elevation of only ∼1.5 km during the early middle Eocene (ca. 46−44 Ma) whereas the ranges remained >4 km high. The high range elevations were sustained for at least 12 m.y. in the middle to late Eocene concurrent with extension, while the basin floor elevation was uplifted to ∼2.5 km by the latest Eocene (ca. 36−34 Ma). Basin aggradation can explain at most half of the 1 km basin floor uplift. The remaining amount (at least 0.5 km) and sustained high range elevation suggest that range denudation and crustal extension was compensated by the isostatic and thermal effects of slab rollback and/or passage of a slab window and infusion of hot asthenosphere beneath the continent. The range elevation in the orogenic front decreased ∼0.5 km by the late Oligocene (ca. 28 Ma), associated with a decrease in rock uplift rate associated with extension. A post-Oligocene elevation drop of ∼1 km resulted in both the ranges and basin floor reaching modern topography in the Kishenehn Basin drainage, likely due to the regional effect of Neogene Basin and Range extension. This study, along with the previous investigation of the Kishenehn Basin by Fan et al. (2017), are the first studies that systematically investigate paleorelief of the orogenic belt by reconstructing paleoelevations of the mountains and the basin at the same time. The results highlight that the Cordilleran orogenic front of northern Montana and southern British Columbia sustained its high elevation edifice for at least 12 m.y. after the start of extension. We suggest that initial crustal extension did not result in orogenic demise because of concurrent thermal and isostatic uplift.
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The role of slab geometry in the exhumation of cordilleran-type orogens and their forelands: Insights from northern Patagonia
Marie C. Genge; Massimiliano Zattin; Elisa Savignano; Marta Franchini; Cécile Gautheron ...
Abstract: In cordilleran-type orogens, subduction geometry exerts a fundamental control on the tectonic behavior of the overriding plate. An integrated low-temperature, large thermochronological data set is used in this study to investigate the burial and exhumation history of the overriding plate in northern Patagonia (40°−45°S). Thermal inverse modeling allowed us to establish that a ∼2.5−4-km-thick section originally overlaid the Jurassic−Lower Cretaceous successions deposited in half-graben systems that are presently exposed in the foreland. Removal of the sedimentary cover started in the late Early Cretaceous. This was coeval with an increase of the convergence rate and a switch to a westward absolute motion of the South American Plate that was accompanied by shallowing of the subducting slab. Unroofing was probably further enhanced by Late Cretaceous to early Paleogene opening of a slab window beneath the overriding plate. Following a tectonically quiescent period, renewed exhumation occurred in the orogen during relatively fast Neogene plate convergence. However, even the highly sensitive apatite (U-Th)/He thermochronometer does not record any coeval cooling in the foreland. The comparison between Late Cretaceous and Neogene exhumation patterns provides clear evidence of the fundamental role played by inter-plate coupling associated with shallow slab configurations in controlling plate-scale deformation. Our results, besides highlighting for the first time how the whole northern Patagonia foreland was affected by an exhumation of several kilometers since the Late Cretaceous, provide unrivalled evidence of the link between deep geodynamic processes affecting the slab and the modes and timing of unroofing of different sectors of the overriding plate.
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Flow of Devonian anatectic crust in the accretionary Altai Orogenic Belt, central Asia: Insights into horizontal and vertical magma transfer
Sheng Wang; Yingde Jiang; Roberto Weinberg; Karel Schulmann; Jian Zhang ...
Abstract: Flow of partially molten crust is a key contributor to mass and heat redistribution within orogenic systems, however, this process has not yet been fully understood in accretionary orogens. This issue is addressed in a Devonian migmatite-granite complex from the Chinese Altai through structural, petrological, and geochronological investigations presented in this study. The migmatite-granite complex records a gradual evolution from metatexite, diatexite to granite and preserves a record of two main Devonian phases of deformation designated D1 and D2. The D1 phase was subdivided into an early crustal thickening episode (D1B) and a later extensional episode (D1M) followed by D2 upright folding. The D1M episode is associated with anatexis in the deep crust. Vertical shortening, associated with D1M, gave rise to the segregation of melt and formation of a sub-horizontal layering of stromatic metatexite. This fabric was reworked by the D2 deformation associated with the migration of anatectic magma in the cores of F2 antiforms. Geochronological investigations combined with petro-structural analysis reveal that: (1) D1M partial melting started probably at 420−410 Ma and formed sub-horizontal stromatic metatexites at ∼30 km depth; (2) The anatectic magma accumulated and migrated when a drainage network developed, as attested by the pervasive formation of massive diatexite migmatites, at 410−400 Ma; (3) Soon after, massive flow of the partially molten crust from orogenic lower to orogenic upper crustal levels, assisted by the interplay between D2 upright folding and magma diapirism, led to migmatite-granite emplacement in the cores of regional F2 antiforms that lasted until at least 390 Ma; (4) a terminal stage was manifested by the emplacement of 370−360 Ma granite dykes into the surrounding metamorphic envelope. We propose that Devonian anatexis assisted by deformation governed first the horizontal and then the vertical flow of partially molten orogenic lower crust, which drove crustal flow, mass redistribution, and crustal differentiation in the accretionary system of the Chinese Altai.
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Three stages of arc migration in the Carboniferous-Triassic in northern Qiangtang, central Tibet, China: Ridge subduction and asynchronous slab rollback of the Jinsha Paleotethys
Yin Liu; Wenjiao Xiao; Brian F. Windley; Kefa Zhou; Rongshe Li ...
Abstract: Carboniferous-Triassic magmatism in northern Qiangtang, central Tibet, China, played a key role in the evolution of the Tibetan Plateau yet remains a subject of intense debate. New geochronological and geochemical data from adakitic, Nb-enriched, and normal arc magmatic rocks, integrated with results from previous studies, enable us to determine the Carboniferous-Triassic (312−205 Ma), arc-related, plutonic-volcanic rocks in northern Qiangtang. Spatial-temporal relationships reveal three periods of younging including southward (312−252 Ma), rapid northward (249−237 Ma), and normal northward (234−205 Ma) migrations that correspond to distinct slab geodynamic processes including continentward slab shallowing, rapid trenchward slab rollback, and normal trenchward rollback of the Jinsha Paleotethys rather than the Longmuco-Shuanghu Paleotethys, respectively. Moreover, varying degrees of coexistence of adakites/High-Mg andesites (HMAs)/Nb-enriched basalt-andesites (NEBs) and intraplate basalts in the above-mentioned stages is consistent with the magmatic effects of slab window triggered by ridge subduction, which probably started since the Late Carboniferous and continued into the Late Triassic. The Carboniferous-Triassic multiple magmatic migrations and ridge-subduction scenarios provide new insight into the geodynamic processes of the Jinsha Paleotethys and the growth mechanism of the Tibetan Plateau.
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Magnetostratigraphic study of a Late Cretaceous−Paleogene succession in the eastern Xining basin, NE Tibet: Constraint on the timing of major tectonic events in response to the India-Eurasia collision
Chi-Cheng He; Yue-Qiao Zhang; Shao-Kai Li; Kai Wang; Jian-Qing Ji
Abstract: Cretaceous-Cenozoic basins developed in the NE Tibetan Plateau contain key archives to unravel the growth history of the plateau in response to the India-Eurasia collision. Here we present magnetostratigraphic results of a Late Cretaceous to Paleogene succession of the Zhongba section outcropping at the southern margin of the eastern Xining basin. This succession consists of three lithological units punctuated by two stratigraphic unconformities, which best recorded the deformation history of this foreland basin. Detailed magnetostratigraphic investigation show that the lower terrestrial sedimentary rock unit, the Minhe Group, was deposited in latest Cretaceous in the time span of ca. 74.5−69.2 Ma; the middle unit was deposited in Paleogene in the time span of ca. 49.3−22 Ma; and the upper conglomeratic unit, not dated, possibly was deposited in early Miocene. Accordingly, the Cretaceous−Paleogene unconformity, widely observed in the foreland basins of NE Tibet, represents a sedimentary hiatus duration of ∼19.9 m.y., from ca. 69.2 Ma to ca. 49.3 Ma, which possibly recorded the far-field response to the tectonic transition from Neo-Tethys oceanic plate subduction to the India-Eurasia collision in southern Tibet. Changes in provenance, sedimentary accumulation rate, and mean susceptibility value at ca. 33−30 Ma, and the total prolate anisotropy of magnetic susceptibility (AMS) ellipsoids and provenance shifting since ca. 23−19 Ma, point to the pulsed growth of West Qinling, and rapid uplift of Laji Shan, respectively, indicating an enhanced effect of the India-Eurasia collision in Oligocene and early Miocene. AMS results show a clockwise rotation of the shortening direction from NEN-SWS in latest Cretaceous to NE-SW in Paleogene.
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Temperatures of Late Cretaceous (Campanian) methane-derived authigenic carbonates from the Western Interior Seaway, South Dakota, USA, using clumped isotopes
Yang Gao; Gregory A. Henkes; J. Kirk Cochran; Neil H. Landman
Abstract: Methane seep deposits, comprising large, carbonate-rich mounds formed from hydrocarbon seepage, were widely distributed in the Late Cretaceous Western Interior Seaway (WIS) of North America. Well-preserved, methane-derived authigenic carbonates (MDACs) from these deposits have been shown to retain petrological, paleontological, and geochemical imprints of their ancient depositional setting, all of which are important for understanding the dynamics and evolution of the shallow, epeiric WIS. To better characterize the environmental conditions of WIS seeps, we applied clumped isotope paleothermometry to magnesium calcite MDAC samples from five seep localities in the upper Campanian Pierre Shale, South Dakota, USA. We measured 21 subsamples, including 18 micritic carbonates and demonstrated apparent clumped isotope equilibrium between MDACs and WIS bottom waters. Extreme 13C depletion in most samples (δ13C ranging to −45.44‰) indicates they were precipitated with oxidized methane as a major source of dissolved inorganic carbon, which itself implies a close association with ancient methanotrophic metabolism. The average clumped isotope paleotemperature from the micritic carbonates is 23 ± 7 °C (1σ standard deviation), which agrees with bottom water paleotemperatures inferred from δ18O measurements of MDACs and well-preserved mollusk shells at similar localities in the WIS. The calculated average δ 18Ow value for these samples is −0.5 ± 1.7‰ (1σ SD), which is indistinguishable from previously reported calculation on Campanian seawater δ18Ow from fossil mollusk shells, but elevated above younger fossils collected from other locations in the WIS. Our conclusions are inconsistent with previously hypothesized disequilibrium for WIS MDAC clumped isotope and therefore we propose that fossil MDAC deposits may be used as paleotemperature archives.
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Autogenic translation and counter point bar deposition in meandering rivers
Z. Sylvester; P.R. Durkin; S.M. Hubbard; D. Mohrig
Abstract: Although it has long been recognized that deposition along meandering rivers is not restricted to convex banks (i.e., point bars), the consensus is that sediment deposition on concave banks of channel bends mostly occurs when meander bends translate downstream because erosion-resistant barriers inhibit their lateral migration. Using a kinematic model of channel meandering and time lapse satellite imagery from the Mamoré River in Bolivia, we show that downstream translation and associated concave bank deposition are essential, autogenic parts of the meandering process, and resulting counter point bars are expected to be present whenever perturbations such as bend cutoffs and channel reoccupations create short bends with high curvatures. The implication is that zones of concave bank deposition with lower topography, finer-grained sediment, slack water, and riparian vegetation that differs from point bars are more common than previously considered.
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Stratigraphy, age, and provenance of the Eocene Chumstick basin, Washington Cascades; implications for paleogeography, regional tectonics, and development of strike-slip basins
Erin E. Donaghy; Paul J. Umhoefer; Michael P. Eddy; Robert B. Miller; Taylor LaCasse
Abstract: Strike-slip faults form in a wide variety of tectonic settings and are a first-order control on the geometry and sediment accumulation patterns in adjacent sedimentary basins. Although the structural and depositional architecture of strike-slip basins is well documented, few studies of strike-slip basins have integrated depositional age, lithofacies, and provenance control within this context. The Chumstick basin formed in central Washington during a regional phase of dextral, strike-slip faulting and episodic magmatism associated with Paleogene ridge-trench interaction along the North America margin. The basin is bounded and subdivided by major strike-slip faults that were active during deposition of the intra-basinal, non-marine Chumstick Formation. We build on the existing stratigraphy and present new, detailed lithofacies mapping, conglomerate clast counts (N = 16; n = 1429), and sandstone detrital zircon analyses (N = 16; n = 1360) from the Chumstick Formation to document changes in sediment provenance, routing, and deposition. These data allow us to reconstruct regional Eocene paleo-drainage systems of Washington and Oregon and suggest that drainage within the Chumstick basin fed a regional river system that flowed to a forearc or marginal basin on the newly accreted Siletzia terrane. More generally, excellent age control from five interbedded tuffs and high sediment accumulation rates allow us to track the evolving sedimentary system over the Formation’s ca. 4−5 m.y. depositional history. This is the first time lithofacies and provenance variations can be constrained at high temporal resolution (0.5−1.5 m.y. scale) for an ancient strike-slip basin and permits a detailed reconstruction of sediment routing pathways and depositional environments. As a result, we can assess how varying sediment supply and accommodation space affects the depositional architecture during strike-slip basin evolution.
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Progressive spatial and temporal evolution of tectonic triggers and metasomatized mantle lithosphere sources for orogenic gold mineralization in a Triassic convergent margin: Kunlun-Qinling Orogen, central China
Hesen Zhao; Qingfei Wang; David I. Groves; Jun Deng
Abstract: Whether orogenic gold deposits formed from crustal or subcrustal sources is debated, and their link to orogenic processes is ambiguous. Gold mineralization in the Triassic East Kunlun−West Qinling Orogen, China, displays a spatial zonation in terms of its ages and stable isotope compositions. In the West Qinling segment, most gold deposits formed in a back-arc setting at 220∼210 Ma during a collisional episode within late slab rollback. These deposits have dominant δ34S of 5∼15‰ and δ 18Ofluid of 10∼14‰, whereas those formed in the suture zone at 210∼170 Ma, during a post-collisional episode after slab break-off, have lower δ34S of −5∼+5‰ and δ18O fluid of 6∼10‰. In the East Kunlun segment, those deposits that formed in a continental-arc setting and its related suture zone at 240∼200 Ma, in collisional to post-collisional episodes associated with slab break-off, have δ34S and δ18Ofluid values that are essentially similar to those in the West Qinling suture. δ 34S values of ore sulfide separates and rims of zoned pyrites that have mantle-like signatures, in contrast with crustal signatures of host rocks, are indicative of subcrustal ore-fluid sources. The combined chronological and stable isotope shifts are consistent with a model in which ore fluids for gold mineralization in a back-arc setting were sourced from mantle lithosphere that was metasomatized by subducted oceanic sediment; whereas those in a continental-arc setting—including its suture zone—were sourced from fluid derived from altered oceanic crust. This study thus provides new insights into the complexity of orogenic gold systems in evolving orogens.
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Late Mesozoic−Cenozoic cooling history of the northeastern Tibetan Plateau and its foreland derived from low-temperature thermochronology
Chen Wu; Andrew V. Zuza; Jie Li; Peter J. Haproff; An Yin ...
Abstract: The growth history and formation mechanisms of the Cenozoic Tibetan Plateau are the subject of an intense debate with important implications for understanding the kinematics and dynamics of large-scale intracontinental deformation. Better constraints on the uplift and deformation history across the northern plateau are necessary to address how the Tibetan Plateau was constructed. To this end, we present updated field observations coupled with low-temperature thermochronology from the Qaidam basin in the south to the Qilian Shan foreland in the north. Our results show that the region experienced a late Mesozoic cooling event that is interpreted as a result of tectonic deformation prior to the India-Asia collision. Our results also reveal the onset of renewed cooling in the Eocene in the Qilian Shan region along the northern margin of the Tibetan Plateau, which we interpret to indicate the timing of initial thrusting and plateau formation along the plateau margin. The interpreted Eocene thrusting in the Qilian Shan predates Cenozoic thrust belts to the south (e.g., the Eastern Kunlun Range), which supports out-of-sequence rather than northward-migrating thrust belt development. The early Cenozoic deformation exploited the south-dipping early Paleozoic Qilian suture zone as indicated by our field mapping and the existing geophysical data. In the Miocene, strike-slip faulting was initiated along segments of the older Paleozoic suture zones in northern Tibet, which led to the development of the Kunlun and Haiyuan left-slip transpressional systems. Late Miocene deformation and uplift of the Hexi corridor and Longshou Shan directly north of the Qilian Shan thrust belt represent the most recent phase of outward plateau growth.
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Distinct responses of late Miocene eolian and lacustrine systems to astronomical forcing in NE Tibet
Zhixiang Wang; Chunju Huang; David B. Kemp; Ze Zhang; Yu Sui
Abstract: East Asian summer monsoon (EASM) and winter monsoon (EAWM) variability on orbital time scales during the late Miocene remains poorly constrained. Climate models reveal variable responses of the EASM and EAWM to astronomical forcing, but there is a lack of empirical evidence from the geological record to validate these results. In this study, we used time series analysis to reconstruct climatic changes and orbital forcing from eolian and lacustrine sediment archives from NE Tibet during the late Miocene. Analysis of magnetic susceptibility data demonstrates that lacustrine sediments in the Tianshui Basin (Yaodian section) show dominant ∼100 k.y. eccentricity forcing in the late Miocene (ca. 10.25−8 Ma). In contrast, eolian deposits in the Jianzha Basin (Jiarang section) show significant 405 k.y. eccentricity and 41 k.y. obliquity forcing over the same interval with weak evidence for ∼100 k.y. eccentricity cycles. Grain size data from the Yaodian section support a lacustrine origin of these sediments and also support previous work demonstrating aridification in NE Tibet after ca. 8.6 Ma. Taken together, our analyses highlight markedly different orbital forcing responses of lacustrine and eolian sedimentary systems during the late Miocene. We suggest that the dominant ∼100 k.y. lacustrine cycles in the Yaodian section, which were mainly controlled by EASM variability, may have been linked to Antarctic ice sheet and/or low-latitude insolation modulations related to precession amplitude modulation by eccentricity. In contrast, the orbital signature of eolian sediments in the Jiarang section was significantly influenced by the EAWM and can be linked to variability in meridional temperature/pressure gradients.
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The construction of the Donegal composite batholith, Irish Caledonides: Temporal constraints from U-Pb dating of zircon and titanite
Donnelly B. Archibald; Lauren M.G. Macquarrie; J. Brendan Murphy; Robin A. Strachan; Chris R.M. McFarlane ...
Abstract: Magmatic and tectonic processes can transport large volumes of magma generated in the deep crust as discrete pulses to shallower crustal depths, resulting in the incremental construction of large, composite batholiths over thousands to tens of millions of years. The Silurian to Early Devonian Donegal composite batholith in Ireland is a classic example of which regional geological syntheses and lithogeochemical data show that emplacement was syn- and post-kinematic with respect to the terminal phases (ca. 437−415 Ma) of the Caledonian orogeny. We used U-Pb dating of zircon and titanite to investigate the construction of the batholith over time. Imaging of these minerals reveals complex, zoned grains with distinct autocrystic (growth during pluton emplacement) and antecrystic (growth during lower crustal incubation) domains as well as xenocrysts (incorporated from wall rocks). To determine the ages of emplacement and of inherited domains, discrete growth zones were targeted for dating using laser ablation−inductively coupled plasma−mass spectrometry (LA-ICP-MS). Taken together, the zircon and titanite U-Pb isotopic data indicate that magmatism occurred over at least 30 m.y., between ca. 430 Ma and 400 Ma. Batholith emplacement is bracketed by the ca. 427−423 Ma Ardara pluton and the latest phases in the Main Donegal and Trawenagh Bay plutons (ca. 400 Ma). Although apparently volumetrically minor, U-Pb data from spatially associated mafic rocks (appinite suite, lamprophyre dikes, and mafic enclaves in granitoid plutons) yield ages ranging from ca. 431−416 Ma, which indicates ongoing mafic magmatism during emplacement of much of the Donegal composite batholith.
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Searles Lake evaporite sequences: Indicators of late Pleistocene/Holocene lake temperatures, brine evolution, and p CO2
Kristian J. Olson; Tim K. Lowenstein
Abstract: Searles Lake, California, was a saline-alkaline lake that deposited >25 non-clastic minerals that record the history of lake chemistry and regional climate. Here, the mineralogy and petrography from the late Pleistocene/Holocene (32−6 ka) portion of a new Searles Lake sediment core, SLAPP-SRLS17, is combined with thermodynamic models to determine the geochemical and paleoclimate conditions required to produce the observed mineral phases, sequences, and abundances. The models reveal that the primary precipitates formed by open system (i.e., fractional crystallization), whereas the early diagenetic salts formed by salinity-driven closed system back-reactions (i.e., equilibrium crystallization). For core SLAPP-SRLS17, the defining evaporite sequence trona → burkeite → halite indicates brine temperatures within a 20−29 °C range, implying thermally insulating lake depths >10 m during salt deposition. Evaporite phases reflect lake water pCO2 consistent with contemporaneous atmospheric values of ∼190−270 ppmv. However, anomalous layers of nahcolite and thenardite indicate pulses of pCO2 > 700−800 ppm, likely due to variable CO2 injection along faults. Core sedimentology indicates that Searles Lake was continuously perennial between 32 ka and 6 ka such that evaporite units reflect periods of net evaporation but never complete desiccation. Model simulations indicate that cycles of partial evaporation and dilution strongly influence long-term brine evolution by amassing certain species, particularly Cl−, that only occur in late-stage soluble salts. A model incorporating long-term brine dynamics corrects previous mass-balance anomalies and shows that the late Pleistocene/Holocene (32−6 ka) salts are partially inherited from the solutes introduced into earlier lakes going back at least 150 ka.
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Geomorphometric descriptions of archipelagic aprons off the southern flanks of French Frigate Shoals and Necker Island edifices, Northwest Hawaiian Ridge
James V. Gardner; Brian R. Calder; Andrew A. Armstrong
Abstract: This study describes the geomorphometries of archipelagic aprons on the southern flanks of the French Frigate Shoals and Necker Island edifices on the central Northwest Hawaiian Ridge that are hotspot volcanoes that have been dormant for 10−11 m.y. The archipelagic aprons are related to erosional headwall scarps and gullies on landslide surfaces but also include downslope gravitational features that include slides, debris avalanches, bedform fields, and outrunners. Some outrunners are located 85 km out onto the deep seafloor in water depths of 4900 m. The bedforms are interpreted to be the result of slow downslope sediment creep rather than products of turbidity currents. The archipelagic aprons appear to differ in origin from those off the Hawaiian Islands. The landslides off the Hawaiian Islands occurred because of oversteepening and loading during the constructive phase of the islands whereas the landslides off the French Frigate Shoals and Necker Island edifices may have resulted from vertical tectonics due to the uplift and relaxation of a peripheral bulge or isolated earthquakes long after the edifices passed beyond the hotspot. The lack of pelagic drape in water depths above the 4600 m depth of the local carbonate compensation depth suggests that the archipelagic apron off the French Frigate Shoals edifice is much younger, perhaps Quaternary in age, than that off the Necker Island edifice, which has a 50 m pelagic drape. The pelagic drape off the Necker Island edifice suggests that the landslides may be as old as 9 Ma. The lack of pelagic drape off the French Frigate Shoals edifice suggests that the most recent landslides are more recent, perhaps even Quaternary in age. The presence of a chute-like feature on the mid-flank of the French Frigate Shoals edifice appears to be the result of rejuvenated volcanism that occurred long after the initial volcanism ceased to build the edifice.
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Regional fault-controlled shallow dolomitization of the Middle Cambrian Cathedral Formation by hydrothermal fluids fluxed through a basal clastic aquifer
Jack Stacey; Hilary Corlett; Greg Holland; Ardiansyah Koeshidayatullah; Chunhui Cao ...
Abstract: This study evaluates examples of hydrothermal dolomitization in the Middle Cambrian Cathedral Formation of the Western Canadian Sedimentary Basin. Kilometer-scale dolomite bodies within the Cathedral Formation carbonate platform are composed of replacement dolomite (RD), with saddle dolomite-cemented (SDC) breccias occurring along faults. These are overlain by the Stephen Formation (Burgess Shale equivalent) shale. RD is crosscut by low-amplitude stylolites cemented by SDC, indicating that dolomitization occurred at very shallow depths (<1 km) during the Middle Cambrian. Clumped isotope data from RD and SDC indicate that dolomitizing fluid temperatures were >230 °C, which demonstrates that dolomitization occurred from hydrothermal fluids. Assuming a geothermal gradient of 40 °C/km, due to rift-related basin extension, fluids likely convected along faults that extended to ∼6 km depth. The negative cerium anomalies of RD indicate that seawater was involved in the earliest phases of replacement dolomitization. 84Kr/36Ar and 132Xe/ 36Ar data are consistent with serpentinite-derived fluids, which became more dominant during later phases of replacement dolomitization/SDC precipitation. The elevated 87Sr/86Sr of dolomite phases, and its co-occurrence with authigenic quartz and albite, likely reflects fluid interaction with K-feldspar in the underlying Gog Group before ascending faults to regionally dolomitize the Cathedral Formation. In summary, these results demonstrate the important role of a basal clastic aquifer in regional-scale fluid circulation during hydrothermal dolomitization. Furthermore, the presence of the Stephen Formation shale above the platform facilitated the build-up of fluid pressure during the final phase of dolomitization, leading to the formation of saddle dolomite-cemented breccias at much shallower depths than previously realized.
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For Immediate Release
1 April 2021
GSA Release No. 21-19

Kea Giles