New GSA Bulletin Articles Published Ahead of Print in August

Boulder, Colo., USA: The Geological Society of America regularly publishes articles online ahead of print. GSA Bulletin topics include the Dead Sea transform system; the Tethyan Himalaya, southern Tibet; the Surprise Canyon Formation; the Nacimiento Formation; and the Trachyandesite of Kennedy Table. You can find these articles at .

Long-term (7 Ma) strain fluctuations within the Dead Sea transform system from high-resolution U-Pb dating of a calcite vein
John P. Craddock; Perach Nuriel; Andrew R.C. Kylander-Clark; Bradley R. Hacker; John Luczaj ...
Abstract: The onset of the Dead Sea transform has recently been reevaluated by U-Pb age-strain analyses of fault-related calcite taken from several fault strands along its main 500-km-long sector. The results suggest that the relative motion between Africa and Arabia north of the Red Sea was transferred northward to the Dead Sea transform as early as 20 Ma and along a ∼10-km-wide deformation zone that formed the central rift with contemporaneous bounding sinistral motion. The Gishron fault is the western bounding fault with normal and sinistral fault offsets that placed Proterozoic crystalline rocks and a cover of Cambrian sandstones in fault contact with Cretaceous-Eocene carbonates. Fault-related calcite veins are common in the Gishron fault zone, and we report the results of a detailed study of one sample with nine calcite fillings. Low fluid inclusion entrapment temperatures <50 °C, stable isotopes values of −3.3−0‰ (δ 13C) and −15 to −13‰ (δ18O), and low rare earth element (REE) concentrations within the nine calcite fault fillings indicate that a local, meteoric fluid fed the Gishron fault zone over ca. 7 Ma at depths of <2 km. Laser ablation U-Pb ages within the thin section range from 20.37 Ma to 12.89 Ma and allow a detailed fault-filling chronology with the oldest calcite filling in the middle, younging outward with shearing between the oldest eight zones, all of which are finally crosscut by a perpendicular (E-W) vein. All nine calcite fillings have unique mechanical twinning strain results (n = 303 grains). Shortening strain magnitudes (−0.28% to −2.8%) and differential stresses (−339 bars to −415 bars) vary across the sample, as do the orientations of the shortening (ε1) and extension (ε3) axes with no evidence of any twinning strain overprint (low negative expected values). Overall, the tectonic compression and shortening is sub-horizontal and sub-parallel to the Gishron fault (∼N-S) and Dead Sea transform plate boundary. Most strikingly, the 7 m.y. period of vein growth correlates exactly with the timing of fault activity as evident within the 10-km-wide deformation zone in this evolving plate boundary (between 20 Ma and 13 Ma).
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Eocene thickening without extra heat in a collisional orogenic belt: A record from Eocene metamorphism in mafic dike swarms within the Tethyan Himalaya, southern Tibet
Yuhua Wang; Lingsen Zeng; Li-E Gao; Zhenyu Chen; Sanzhong Li
Abstract: Knowledge of the nature of the earliest metamorphism experienced by collisional orogenic belts is essential for reconstruction of tectonic processes that build high mountain chains and their environmental consequences. Understanding the metamorphic nature of Eohimalayan-phase orogeny of the Himalayan orogen, one of the typical examples of orogenic belts worldwide, could provide some important constraints to test different tectonic models (shallow continental subduction vs. slab breakoff) for the early phases of the development of large-scale orogenic belts. As exhumed middle- to lower-crustal rocks in the Kangmar gneiss dome, the garnet amphibolites with a protolith age of 176.4 ± 3.6 Ma experienced a phase of metamorphism at 47.2 ± 1.8 Ma with an increase in pressure as well as temperature from 3−5 kbar and 550−600 °C to over ∼11 kbar and 650 °C. This suggests that the middle- to lower-crustal rocks experienced heating at least by ∼50 °C while they underwent compression and thickening. Heat-flow estimation further demonstrates that the self-produced heat was high enough to achieve the observed pressure-temperature conditions recorded by the garnet amphibolite. Therefore, an additional heat supply is not required during early Eocene metamorphism. A breakoff of the leading part of the subducting Indian continental slab, if it occurred, should be younger than ca. 47 Ma.
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Geodynamic significance of a buried transient Carboniferous landscape
Fergus McNab; Nicky White
Abstract: It is increasingly clear that present-day dynamic topography on Earth, which is generated and maintained by mantle convective processes, varies on timescales and length scales on the order of 1−10 m.y. and 103 km, respectively. A significant implication of this behavior is that Phanerozoic stratigraphic records should contain indirect evidence of these processes. Here, we describe and analyze a well-exposed example of an ancient landscape from the Grand Canyon region of western North America that appears to preserve a transient response to mantle processes. The Surprise Canyon Formation lies close to the Mississippian-Pennsylvanian boundary and crops out as a series of discontinuous lenses and patches that are interpreted as remnants of a westward-draining network of paleovalleys and paleochannels within a coastal embayment. This drainage network is incised into the marine Redwall Limestone whose irregular and karstified upper surface contains many caves and collapse structures. The Surprise Canyon Formation itself consists of coarse imbricated conglomerates, terrestrial plant impressions including Lepidodendron, and marine invertebrate fossils. It is overlain by marine, fluvial, and aeolian deposits of the Supai Group. These stratal relationships are indicative of a transient base-level fall whose amplitude and regional extent are recognized as being inconsistent with glacio-eustatic sea-level variation. We propose that this transient event is caused by emplacement and decay of a temperature anomaly within an asthenospheric channel located beneath the lithospheric plate. An analytical model is developed that accounts for the average regional uplift associated with landscape development and its rapid tectonic subsidence. This model suggests that emplacement and decay of a ∼50 °C temperature anomaly within a channel that is 150 ± 50 km thick can account for the observed vertical displacements. Our results are corroborated by detrital zircon studies that support wholesale drainage reorganization at this time and by stratigraphic evidence for spatially variable regional epeirogeny. They are also consistent with an emerging understanding of the temporal and spatial evolution of the lithosphere-asthenosphere boundary.
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A model involving amphibolite lower crust melting and subsequent melt extraction for leucogranite generation
Liqiang Wang; Wenbin Cheng; Teng Gao; Yong Wang
Abstract: In the southern Tibetan Plateau, leucogranites are dominantly distributed in the Himalayan orogenic belt with minor occurrences in the southern Lhasa subterrane. In this paper, we report the first Miocene Anglonggangri leucogranites in the northern Lhasa subterrane. This finding provides important constraints on both leucogranite petrogenesis and the tectono-magmatic evolution of the Lhasa terrane. The Anglonggangri leucogranites include biotite-muscovite granite and slightly younger garnet-muscovite granite and pegmatite. Zircon U-Pb and muscovite 40Ar-39Ar dating of these leucogranites yields Miocene ages of 11.1−10.2 Ma. The biotite-muscovite and garnet-muscovite granites are characterized by high SiO2 (72.3−74.4 wt%) and Al 2O3 contents (14.4−15.4 wt%) and are peraluminous. The biotite-muscovite granite displays geochemical signatures with high Sr/Y (29.2−81.0) and (La/Yb)N (37.5−98.9) ratios, low Y (4.30−7.22 ppm) and Yb contents (0.26−0.47 ppm), low to moderate initial ( 87Sr/86Sr)i ratios (0.7085−0.7192), and moderate εNd(t) values (−10.17 to −6.94). Furthermore, they also exhibit radiogenic Pb isotope and variable zircon εHf(t) values (−9.6 to +4.4) with Proterozoic Nd (1.1−1.4 Ga) and Hf model ages (0.8−1.7 Ga). By comparison, the garnet-muscovite granite has lower CaO, MgO, TiO 2, and total FeO contents and is enriched in Rb (380−466 ppm) and depleted in Sr (24.1−38.5 ppm) and Ba (30.7−58.6 ppm) and further characterized by a significant rare earth element (REE) tetrad effect and non-charge and radius-controlled (CHARAC) trace element behaviors. The garnet-muscovite granite shows a negative Eu anomaly and positive correlations among Sr and Eu, Sr and Ba, and Th and light rare earth elements (LREEs). Pegmatite comprising Nb-Ta oxides and cassiterite occurs in the garnet-muscovite granite. Geochronological and geochemical characteristics of the Anglonggangri leucogranites indicate that the magma of the biotite-muscovite granite was derived from partial melting of amphibolite lower crust contaminated with Proterozoic-Archean upper crustal materials. The garnet-muscovite granite was generated through melt extraction from the biotite-muscovite granite crystal mush. These results confirm that partial melting of the amphibolite lower crust not only occurred in the southern and central Lhasa subterranes but also in the northern Lhasa subterrane.
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Nonclimatic and extrabasinal processes controlled pedogenesis in paleosols of the Paleocene Nacimiento Formation, New Mexico, USA
Kevin M. Hobbs; Peter J. Fawcett
Abstract: Paleosols can represent intervals of nondeposition in sedimentary packages and are used with increasing frequency as proxies for paleoenvironmental conditions during basin filling. However, the complexities of factors both internal and external to pedogenesis require consideration of paleosols in any basin or sedimentary package in a broader context than is often assumed. With this in mind, we measured and analyzed pedogenic features, stratigraphic position, geochemical composition, and petrography of paleosols in the Nacimiento Formation to gain insight into the paleoenvironmental conditions of the early Paleocene in the San Juan Basin. During this interval, the San Juan Basin was located in middle northern latitudes (∼40°N) and saw rapid terrestrial siliciclastic sedimentation related to Laramide tectonism. Evidence from earlier researchers suggests that prevailing climate conditions during Nacimiento Formation deposition were warm and humid. We used morphological properties of paleosols to categorize paleosols into pedotypes indicative of distinct pedogenic conditions. The general stratigraphic distribution of these pedotypes shows an up-section increase in soil drainage conditions through the Nacimiento Formation that cannot be correlated with known climate changes. We suggest that fluvial system evolution was the major control on pedogenic conditions. We investigated Nacimiento Formation paleosols with widely used paleosol geochemical climate analyses, which provided paleoclimate estimates that are in disaccord with independently derived estimates. We show that in alluvial depositional systems with source areas in weathered sedimentary rocks, these analyses can be difficult to interpret and likely lead to estimates that do not reflect true pedogenic conditions during the postdepositional near-surface alteration of sediments. Petrographic analysis of Nacimiento Formation paleosols showed that some likely formed under semiarid to subhumid conditions that allowed pedogenic accumulation and illuviation of smectite clays yet did not substantially chemically alter primary detrital plagioclase feldspar grains in paleosol B horizons. The paleosols of the Nacimiento Formation, when analyzed at the basin scale, show that sedimentary aggradational processes can overpower climate processes in creation of a sequence of paleosols in a stratigraphic section. In addition, the incorporation of clays from sedimentary rocks in a basin’s source area can drastically skew the geochemical signatures and therefore interpretations of paleosols in that basin.
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Trachyandesite of Kennedy Table, its vent complex, and post−9.3 Ma uplift of the central Sierra Nevada
Wes Hildreth; Judy Fierstein; Fred M. Phillips; Andy Calvert
Abstract: Tectonic interpretation of the central Sierra Nevada—whether the crest of the Sierra Nevada (California, USA) was uplifted in the late Cenozoic or whether the range has undergone continuous down-wearing since the Late Cretaceous—is controversial, since there is no obvious tectonic explanation for renewed uplift. The strongest direct evidence for late Cenozoic uplift of the central Sierra Nevada comes from study of the Trachyandesite of Kennedy Table, which followed the course of the Miocene San Joaquin River but has a steeper gradient than the modern river. Early workers attributed this steeper gradient to tilting of the Sierra Nevada block since the late Miocene, resulting in 2 km of range-crest uplift. However, this interpretation has been contested on grounds that the Miocene river gradient had to be assumed and that the Sierran Batholith could have warped during tilting, thus failing to uplift the range crest. The objective of this study was to obtain quantitative data that test these criticisms. The Trachyandesite of Kennedy Table is a chain of 33 remnants of a single lava flow as thick as 65 m, preserved for 21 km from Squaw Leap to Little Dry Creek, close to the modern San Joaquin River in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada. Several remnants lie on fluvial gravel of the late Miocene San Joaquin River. Early workers speculated that the lava concealed its own (unrecognized) vent, but in 2011, we identified the vent on the Middle Fork of the San Joaquin River, 13.5 km south of Deadman Pass and 70 km northeast of Kennedy Table. The vent complex intrudes Cretaceous granite, has 285 m relief, and is an intricately jointed intrusion that grades up into a glassy lava flow. Composition (58% SiO 2) and 40Ar/39Ar age (9.3 Ma) are identical at the vent and downstream. Basal elevations of remnants were recorded, and the present-day basal gradients of several were adjusted for apparent dip and projected along a vertical plane at 220° (the estimated tilt azimuth). The basal gradients are far steeper than that of the modern river, but they differ slightly from reach to reach and are thus inconsistent measures of the post-Miocene tilt. Likewise, relief eroded atop most remnants renders modeling of upper surfaces suspect. At Little Dry Creek, however, a chain of nine remnants rests on fluvial floodplain sand and gravel; this chain trends 230°, and its smooth basal contact now dips 1.36° (adjusted at 220°). Projection of this dip 89 km from the 207 m base of the most distal remnant at Little Dry Creek to the vent intrusion falls far below the 2760 m intrusion-to-lava-flow transition near the Sierran crest, showing that the Sierran block has not undergone pronounced convex warping. Using elevation data on paleoriver meanders preserved by the lava flow, we show that the paleogradient has a cosine dependence on meander-section azimuth, indicating tilting. Subtraction of 1.07° of dip restores the data to an azimuth-independent configuration, indicating total tilting since 9.3 Ma of 1.07° and an original large-scale gradient of 0.46°, similar to the published value of 0.33° at Squaw Leap, but larger than the previously obtained value of 0.057° at Little Dry Creek. Subtraction of those Miocene estimates from the observable 1.643° tilt along the section from Little Dry Creek to the vent yields vent uplift of 2464 m (for 0.057°), 1835 m (for 0.46°), and 2040 m (for 0.33°). Confirmation of earlier assumptions regarding Miocene river gradient and block rigidity greatly strengthens the case for ∼2 km of late Cenozoic uplift of the central Sierra Nevada crest.
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GSA BULLETIN articles published ahead of print are online at . Representatives of the media may obtain complimentary copies of articles by contacting Kea Giles. Please discuss articles of interest with the authors before publishing stories on their work, and please make reference to The Geological Society of America Bulletin in articles published. Non-media requests for articles may be directed to GSA Sales and Service,

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For Immediate Release
30 August 2021
GSA Release No. 21-48

Kea Giles