News Release

New Geology articles published online ahead of print in July

Peer-Reviewed Publication

Geological Society of America

Boulder, Colo., USA: Article topics include the central nervous system of a 310-million-year-old horseshoe crab; the Line Islands volcanic chain; “Jurassic Arc”; the case of the Cali glass; the nature of magmatism; and the supergiant Olympic Dam uranium deposit. These Geology articles are online at


Linking rivers to the rock record: Channel patterns and paleocurrent circular variance
C.P. Galeazzi; R.P. Almeida; A.H. do Prado
Abstract: Alluvial rivers are the most important agents of sediment transport in continental basins, whose fluvial deposits enclose information related to the time when rivers were active. In order to extract the most information from fluvial deposits in the sedimentary record, it is imperative to quantify the natural variability of channel patterns at the global scale, explore what controls may influence their development, and investigate whether channel pattern information is preserved in the alluvial plains in order to develop tools for recognizing them in the sedimentary record. By surveying 361 reaches of modern alluvial rivers with available water discharge data at a global scale, we present a quantitative channel pattern classification based on sinuosity and channel count index applicable to the recognition in the rock record. A continuum of channel patterns ranging from high-sinuosity single channel to lowsinuosity multichannels is documented, along with the proportion of depositional elements in their alluvial plains and their conditions of occurrence. Preserved barforms in the alluvial plains of these rivers are used to infer and quantify paleoflow directions at the channel-belt scale and result in ranges of paleocurrent circular variance that may lead to channel pattern identification in the rock record. Data from this work indicate that the recognition of channel patterns may be used to predict paleogeographic features such as the scale of drainage basin area and discharge, slope, and annual discharge regimes.
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Efficient release of bromine by super-eruptions
Clara M. Waelkens; John Stix; Brian Monteleone; Pierre Burckel
Abstract: Bromine is a key halogen element in the quantification of volcanic volatiles, but analytical difficulties in measuring its very low abundances have prevented progress in understanding its behavior and its role in volcanic emissions. We present a new data set of bromine, chlorine, and fluorine concentrations in melt inclusions and matrix glasses for two rhyolitic super-eruptions from the Toledo and Valles calderas, New Mexico, USA. We show that before eruption, Br and Cl were efficiently partitioned from the gas-saturated magma into a separate fluid phase, and we calculate the mass of halogens in the fluid phase. We further demonstrate that syn-eruptive magma degassing was negligible during the super-eruptions, so that the main source of halogen emissions must have been the fluid phase. If the fluid phase were erupted, the large mass of Br and Cl could have severely impacted the atmospheric chemistry upon eruption.
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The unevenness of the north Iberian crustal root, a snapshot of an elusive stage in margin reactivation
Gabriela Fernández-Viejo; Patricia Cadenas; Jorge Acevedo; Sergio Llana-Fúnez
Abstract: Crustal roots are identified in collision chains worldwide. Frequently mirroring the summits of mountain systems, they elegantly encapsulate the concept of isostasy. The rugged topography of northern Iberia results from convergence with the European plate during the Alpine orogeny that formed the Pyrenean-Cantabrian mountain range. From east to west, the range comprises three distinct parts: the Pyrenees, the Basque Cantabrian region, and the Cantabrian Mountains. The identification of the Pyrenean root in the 1980s and the observation of a similar geometry beneath the Cantabrian range in the 1990s gave place to the current view of crustal thickening as a continuous feature, resulting from the northward subduction of Iberian crust. Recent developments in rift architecture have delivered a complex rifting template for the area prior to convergence, and contrasting views based on two-dimensional restorations have led to a debate over its evolution. A crucial geophysical constraint is Moho topography. Using two different data sets and techniques, we present the most accurate Moho surface to date, evidencing abrupt changes throughout the orogen. The complexity of hyperextended margins underlies the current Moho topography, and this is ultimately transferred to the nonuniform orogenic pattern found in northern Iberia.
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Distinguishing volcanic from impact glasses—The case of the Cali glass (Colombia)
Ludovic Ferrière; Alvaro P. Crósta; Wencke Wegner; Eugen Libowitzky; Fabio Iwashita ...
Abstract: Natural glass occurs on Earth in different geological contexts, mainly as volcanic glass, fulgurites, and impact glass. All these different types of glasses are predominantly composed of silica with variable amounts of impurities, especially the alkalis, and differ in their water content due to their mode of formation. Distinguishing between different types of glasses, on Earth and also on the Moon and on other planetary bodies, can be challenging. This is particularly true for glasses of impact and volcanic origin. Because glass is often used for the determination of the age of geological events, even if out of geological context, as well as to derive pressure and temperature constraints, or to evaluate the volatile contents of magmas and their source regions, we rely on methods that can unambiguously distinguish between the different types of glasses. We used the case of the Cali glass, found in an extended area close to the city of Cali in western Colombia, which was previously suggested to be of impact or volcanic origin, to show that, using a multimethod approach (i.e., combining macroscopic observations, chemical and isotopic data, and H2O content), it is possible to distinguish between different formation modes. A suite of Cali glass samples was analyzed using electron microprobe, instrumental neutron activation analysis, thermal ionization mass spectrometry, and Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy, allowing us to definitively exclude an impact origin and instead classify these glasses as a rhyolitic volcanic glass (obsidian). Our results suggest that other “unusual glass occurrences” that are claimed, but not convincingly proven, to be of impact origin should be reexamined using the same methodology as that applied here.
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Current and sea level control the demise of shallow carbonate production on a tropical bank (Saya de Malha Bank, Indian Ocean)
Christian Betzler; Sebastian Lindhorst; Thomas Lüdmann; John J. Reijmer; Juan-Carlos Braga ...
Abstract: Carbonate platforms are built mainly by corals living in shallow light-saturated tropical waters. The Saya de Malha Bank (Indian Ocean), one of the world’s largest carbonate platforms, lies in the path of the South Equatorial Current. Its reefs do not reach sea level, and all carbonate production is mesophotic to oligophotic. New geological and oceanographic data unravel the evolution and environment of the bank, elucidating the factors determining this exceptional state. There are no nutrient-related limitations for coral growth. A switch from a rimmed atoll to a current-exposed system with only mesophotic coral growth is proposed to have followed the South Equatorial Current development during the late Neogene. Combined current activity and sea-level fluctuations are likely controlling factors of modern platform configuration.
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Central nervous system of a 310-m.y.-old horseshoe crab: Expanding the taphonomic window for nervous system preservation
Russell D.C. Bicknell; Javier Ortega-Hernández; Gregory D. Edgecombe; Robert R. Gaines; John R. Paterson
Abstract: The central nervous system (CNS) presents unique insight into the behaviors and ecology of extant and extinct animal groups. However, neurological tissues are delicate and prone to rapid decay, and thus their occurrence as fossils is mostly confined to Cambrian Burgess Shale–type deposits and Cenozoic amber inclusions. We describe an exceptionally preserved CNS in the horseshoe crab Euproops danae from the late Carboniferous (Moscovian) Mazon Creek Konservat-Lagerstätte in Illinois, USA. The E. danae CNS demonstrates that the general prosomal synganglion organization has remained essentially unchanged in horseshoe crabs for >300 m.y., despite substantial morphological and ecological diversification in that time. Furthermore, it reveals that the euarthropod CNS can be preserved by molding in siderite and suggests that further examples may be present in the Mazon Creek fauna. This discovery fills a significant temporal gap in the fossil record of euarthropod CNSs and expands the taphonomic scope for preservation of detailed paleoneuroanatomical data in the Paleozoic to siderite concretion Lagerstätten of marginal marine deposits.
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Late Paleoproterozoic mafic magmatism and the Kalahari craton during Columbia assembly
Cedric Djeutchou; Michiel O. de Kock; Hervé Wabo; Camilo E. Gaitán; Ulf Söderlund ...
Abstract: The 1.87–1.84 Ga Black Hills dike swarm of the Kalahari craton (South Africa) is coeval with several regional magmatic provinces used here to resolve the craton’s position during Columbia assembly. We report a new 1850 ± 4 Ma (U-Pb isotope dilution–thermal ionization mass spectrometry [ID-TIMS] on baddeleyite) crystallization age for one dike and new paleomagnetic data for 34 dikes of which 8 have precise U-Pb ages. Results are constrained by positive baked-contact and reversal tests, which combined with existing data produce a 1.87–1.84 Ga mean pole from 63 individual dikes. By integrating paleomagnetic and geochronological data sets, we calculate poles for three magmatic episodes and produce a magnetostratigraphic record. At 1.88 Ga, the Kalahari craton is reconstructed next to the Superior craton so that their ca. 2.0 Ga poles align. As such, magmatism forms part of a radiating pattern with the coeval ca. 1.88 Ga Circum-Superior large igneous province.
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The products of primary magma fragmentation finally revealed by pumice agglomerates
Thomas Giachetti; Kathleen R. Trafton; Joshua Wiejaczka; James E. Gardner; James M. Watkins ...
Abstract: Following rapid decompression in the conduit of a volcano, magma breaks into ash- to block-sized fragments, powering explosive sub-Plinian and Plinian eruptions that may generate destructive pyroclastic falls and flows. It is thus crucial to assess how magma breaks up into fragments. This task is difficult, however, because of the subterranean nature of the entire process and because the original size of pristine fragments is modified by secondary fragmentation and expansion. New textural observations of sub-Plinian and Plinian pumice lapilli reveal that some primary products of magma fragmentation survive by sintering together within seconds of magma break-up. Their size distributions reflect the energetics of fragmentation, consistent with products of rapid decompression experiments. Pumice aggregates thus offer a unique window into the previously inaccessible primary fragmentation process and could be used to determine the potential energy of fragmentation.
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Translithospheric magma plumbing system of intraplate volcanoes as revealed by electrical resistivity imaging
Yabin Li; Aihua Weng; Wenliang Xu; Zonglin Zou; Yu Tang ...
Abstract: The magma plumbing systems of volcanoes in subduction and divergent tectonic settings are relatively well known, whereas those of intraplate volcanoes remain elusive; robust geophysical information on the magma pathways and storage zones is lacking. We inverted magnetotelluric data to image the magma plumbing system of an intraplate monogenetic volcanic field located above the stagnant Pacific slab in northeast China. We identified a complex, vertically aligned, low-resistivity anomaly system extending from the asthenosphere to the surface consisting of reservoirs with finger- to lens-like geometries. We show that magma forms as CO2-rich melts in a 150-km-deep asthenospheric plume crossing the whole lithosphere as hydrated melt, inducing underplating at 50 km depth, evolving in crustal reservoirs, and erupting along dikes. Intraplate volcanoes are characterized by low degrees of melting and low magma supply rates. Their plumbing systems have a geometry not so different from that of volcanoes in subduction settings.
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Multiple melt source origin of the Line Islands (Pacific Ocean)
Robert Pockalny; Ginger Barth; Barry Eakins; Katherine A. Kelley; Christina Wertman
Abstract: The Line Islands volcanic chain in the central Pacific Ocean exhibits many characteristics of a hotspot-generated seamount chain; however, the lack of a predictable age progression has stymied previous models for the origin of this feature. We combined plate-tectonic reconstructions with seamount age dates and available geochemistry to develop a new model that involves multiple melt regions and multiple melt delivery styles to explain the spatial and temporal history of the Line Islands system. Our model identifies a new melt source region (Larson melt region at ~17°S, ~125°W) that contributed to the formation of the Line Islands, as well as the Mid-Pacific Mountains and possibly the Pukapuka Ridge.
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South African speleothems reveal influence of high- and low-latitude forcing over the past 113.5 k.y.
Brian Chase; Chris Harris; Maarten J. de Wit; Jan Kramers; Sean Doel ...
Abstract: Variation in δ18O and δ13C values in a speleothem from the Cango Caves in southernmost South Africa enable the construction of coherent regional composite records spanning the past 113,500 yr. Novel for the region in terms of both their length and detail, these records indicate environmental and climatic changes that both are consistent with records from the wider region and show a clear evolution from low- to high-latitude forcing dominance across the last glacial period. Prior to ca. 70 ka, the influence of direct low-latitude insolation forcing is expressed through increases in summer rainfall during austral summer insolation maxima. With the onset of Marine Isotope Stage 4, cooler global conditions and the development of high-latitude ice sheets appear to have supplanted direct insolation forcing as the dominant driver pacing patterns of environmental change, with records from the Southern and Northern Hemisphere tropics exhibiting a positive relationship until after the Last Glacial Maximum. These results highlight the complexity of South African climate change dynamics as a response to changing global boundary conditions and provide a critical reference for regional and global comparisons.
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How carbonate dissolution facilitates sediment-hosted Zn-Pb mineralization
Weihua Liu; Sam C. Spinks; Matthew Glenn; Colin MacRae; Mark A. Pearce
Abstract: Most of the world’s Zn and Pb is extracted from sediment-hosted Zn-Pb deposits. The Zn-Pb deposits hosted in carbonate rocks are hypothesized to form by mixing of acidic metal-bearing brines with reduced sulfur-bearing fluids while dissolving sedimentary carbonate. To test the role of carbonate in this process, we conducted hydrothermal experiments simulating ore formation by reacting Zn ± Pb ± Ba–bearing brines with H2S and SO42– produced by native sulfur, with and without carbonate minerals (calcite or dolomite crystals), at 200 °C and water-saturated pressure. Sphalerite, galena, and barite (or anhydrite) crystals formed only when carbonate was present in the experiment, accompanied by carbonate dissolution. The textures of sphalerite clusters are similar to those observed in ancient and modern hydrothermal deposits. Thermodynamic modeling at 150 °C and 250 °C demonstrates that mixing of metal-rich brines and H2S causes most of the Zn in solution to precipitate as sphalerite only when carbonate dissolution occurs to buffer the pH, consistent with the experimental observations. The need for a pH buffer increases with increasing temperature, and different pH buffers may play a role for different deposit types. We propose that carbonate-buffered fluid mixing is a critical process for forming post-sedimentary Zn ± Pb ± Ba deposits in sedimentary carbonate rocks.
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Jurassic Arc: Reconstructing the Lost World of eastern Gondwana
Elliot K. Foley; R.A. Henderson; E.M. Roberts; A.I.S. Kemp; C.N. Todd ...
Abstract: The tectonic setting of the Australian sector of the eastern Gondwanan margin during the Jurassic and Cretaceous is enigmatic. Whether this involved convergent tectonism and a long-lived continental magmatic arc or rift-related extension unrelated to subduction is debated. The paucity of Australian Jurassic–Cretaceous igneous outcrops makes resolving these competing models difficult. We used the detrital zircon record of the Jurassic–Cretaceous Great Australian Superbasin (GAS) as a proxy for igneous activity. We attribute the persistent magmatism recorded in GAS sedimentary fill throughout the Mesozoic to ca. 95 Ma to continuation of the established Paleozoic continental arc system. The detrital zircon record signals short (~10 m.y.) pulses of elevated Jurassic and Cretaceous magmatic activity and strongly positive εHf values, indicating juvenile crust or mantle-derived magmatism. Margin reconstruction indicates sustained continental growth at rates of at least ~55 km3 km–1 m.y.–1, mainly to the tract now represented by submerged northern Zealandia, due to the retreat of this arc system. We posit that arc retreat was a key factor in rapid crust generation and preservation, and that continental sedimentary systems globally may host cryptic records of juvenile crustal addition that must be considered in estimating crustal growth rates along convergent plate margins.
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Extreme fractionation of selenium isotopes and possible deep biospheric origin of platinum nuggets from Minas Gerais, Brazil
Alexandre Raphael Cabral; Stephan König; Benjamin Eickmann; Michael Brauns; Miguel Tupinambá ...
Abstract: Platinum-rich nuggets offer an opportunity for understanding how precious metals accumulate. We analyzed the selenium (Se) isotopic composition of Se-rich (102–103 μg g–1) platinum-palladium (Pt-Pd) nuggets from a recent placer deposit in Minas Gerais, Brazil, for which a biogenic origin has been inferred. We obtained Se isotopic values with a relatively narrow range (δ82/76SeNIST3149 = –17.4‰ to –15.4‰ ± 0.2‰, two standard deviations [2 SD]). The Pt-Os age of the nuggets is 181 ± 6 Ma (2 SD). The data indicate that the nuggets did not form in the recent placer deposit, but by replacement of hydrothermal vein minerals at ~70 °C and at least 800 m below the surface. The high abundance and extreme isotopic composition of Se as well as the presence of other biophilic elements like iodine, organic carbon, and nitrogen within the nugget matrix are consistent with a microbial origin. Although abiogenic reduction of Se oxyanions cannot be ruled out, the nuggets plausibly record Se-supported microbial activity in the deep biosphere.
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Skarn fluid sources as indicators of timing of Cordilleran arc emergence and paleogeography in the southwestern United States
M. Gevedon; J.S. Lackey; J.D. Barnes
Abstract: Oxygen isotope ratios of garnet provide well-established means to investigate crustal fluid histories. Traditionally, δ18O values from skarn garnets have been used to track the hydrothermal evolution of an individual skarn body through time. We, however, use garnet from 14 skarns from the Jurassic (ca. 175 to ca. 148 Ma) Cordilleran margin arc (southwestern United States) to provide regional tectonic context to arc magmatism and hydrothermal activity. We document arc-wide garnet δ18O variability of ~19‰ (–8.9‰ to +10.3‰, n = 159), providing a record of contrasting meteoric fluid ingress between northern (Sierra Nevada) and southern (Mojave Desert) arc segments. Strongly negative garnet δ18O values (≤–3‰) are limited to the Mojave Desert arc segment and can only form in the presence of meteoric fluid, requiring shallow formation in subaerial crust. When combined with U-Pb garnet ages, the δ18O data provide a minimum radiometric age of local subaerial arc emergence and temporal constraint on the migration of the Jurassic paleoshoreline in the Mojave Desert section of the arc.
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Hydrothermal alteration can result in pore pressurization and volcano instability
Michael J. Heap; Tobias Baumann; H. Albert Gilg; Stephan Kolzenburg; Amy G. Ryan ...
Abstract: The collapse of a volcanic flank can be destructive and deadly. Hydrothermal alteration is common to volcanoes worldwide and is thought to promote volcano instability by decreasing rock strength. However, some laboratory studies have shown that not all alteration reduces rock strength. Our new laboratory data for altered rhyodacites from Chaos Crags (Lassen volcanic center, California, USA) show that pore- and crack-filling mineral precipitation can reduce porosity and permeability and increase strength, Young’s modulus, and cohesion. A significant reduction in permeability, by as much as four orders of magnitude, will inhibit fluid circulation and create zones of high pore fluid pressure. We explored the consequences of pore fluid pressurization on volcano stability using large-scale numerical modeling. Upscaled physical and mechanical properties for hydrothermally altered rocks were used as input parameters in our modeling. Results show that a high-pore-pressure zone within a volcano increases volcano deformation and that increasing the size of this zone increases the observed deformation. Hydrothermal alteration associated with mineral precipitation, and increases to rock strength, can therefore promote pore pressurization and volcano deformation, increasing the likelihood of volcano spreading, flank collapses, and phreatic/phreatomagmatic explosions. We conclude that porosity-decreasing alteration, explored here, and porosity-increasing alteration can both promote volcano instability and collapse, but by different mechanisms. Hydrothermal alteration should therefore be monitored at volcanoes worldwide and incorporated into hazard assessments.
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Ice-crystal traces imply ephemeral freezing in early Permian equatorial Pangea
Lily S. Pfeifer; Brooke A. Birkett; Jean Van Den Driessche; Stéphane Pochat; Gerilyn S. Soreghan
Abstract: Delicate impressions in lacustrine strata of the lower Permian (lower Cisuralian) Usclas Formation record ephemeral freezing in equatorial Pangea. These sediments accumulated in the paleoequatorial and intramontane Lodève Basin (southern Massif Central, France) during peak icehouse conditions of the Late Paleozoic Ice Age. Experimental replication of these features supports the interpretation that they are ice-crystal molds. Evidence for films of ice in marginal-lacustrine sediment at such low latitudes and inferred low to moderate altitudes (1–2 km) calls for a reevaluation of climate conditions in eastern equatorial Pangea. Ephemeral freezing implies either cold tropical temperatures (~5 °C cooler than the Last Glacial Maximum) and/or lapse rates that exceeded those of the Last Glacial Maximum. Extreme continentality of the Lodève Basin would have amplified seasonality, albeit the climatic forcing(s) necessary to have promoted cold temperatures in equatorial Pangea remain enigmatic.
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Superhydrous hematite and goethite: A potential water reservoir in the red dust of Mars?
Si Athena Chen; Peter J. Heaney; Jeffrey E. Post; Timothy B. Fischer; Peter J. Eng ...
Abstract: Water can be stored in nominally anhydrous minerals as substitutional hydroxyl, generating vast but commonly unrecognized H2O reservoirs in ostensibly dry regimes. Researchers have long known that hematite (α-Fe2O3) can accommodate small concentrations of hydroxyl through the substitution of Fe3+ by 3H+. Our study of natural hematite has demonstrated the occurrence of “hydrohematite” phases that are 10–20 mol% deficient in Fe and accordingly contain 3.6–7.8 mol% structural water. Intergrown with natural hydrohematite samples were superhydrous goethite-like phases exhibiting an Fe deficiency of 10–20 mol% relative to endmember goethite (α-FeOOH). We synthesized hydrohematite in alkaline solutions (pH 9–12) at low temperatures (T < 200 °C) using fresh ferrihydrite as the transient precursor, and we observed a nonclassical crystallization pathway involving vacancy inoculation by Fe as nanocrystals evolved. The high level of incorporation of H2O in iron (hydr)oxides dramatically alters their behaviors as catalysts and pigments, and the presence of hydrohematite in rocks may rule out high-T diagenesis. We propose that hydrohematite is common in low-T occurrences of Fe oxide on Earth, and by extension it may inventory large quantities of water in apparently arid planetary environments, such as the surface of Mars.
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Tiny, glassy, and rapidly trapped: The nano-sized planktic diatoms in Messinian (late Miocene) gypsum
Luca Pellegrino; Marcello Natalicchio; Kenta Abe; Richard W. Jordan; Sergio E. Favero Longo ...
Abstract: Primary gypsum represents an excellent paleobiological archive due to its early and fast growth, favoring the preservation of delicate biomineralized structures. The Mediterranean region is renowned for evaporite deposits that formed during the Messinian salinity crisis (MSC), an event that supposedly annihilated most of the marine biota. However, the Messinian evaporites have been scarcely studied for their fossil content. Abundant nano-sized planktic diatoms and associated organic matter are observed for the first time in bottom-grown gypsum crystals that formed during the early stage of the MSC in different marginal basins of the western Mediterranean. This discovery increases our knowledge of the Messinian biota and reveals that nano-sized planktic diatoms played a prominent role in carbon and silicon export during gypsum deposition. The co-occurrence of these diatoms with larger diatoms, possibly associated with a deep chlorophyll maximum, suggests that Messinian gypsum formed in stratified and relatively deep basins (far below the photic zone), typified by marine conditions in the upper water column. The nano-sized planktic diatoms may have taken advantage of the hydrological reconfigurations experienced by the Mediterranean since the onset of the MSC. This study confirms that primary gypsum represents a promising archive of information for elucidating the marine biotic response to an ancient environmental crisis.
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First identification of a Cathaysian continental fragment beneath the Gagua Ridge, Philippine Sea, and its tectonic implications
Shengping Qian; Xiaozhi Zhang; Jonny Wu; Serge Lallemand; Alexander R.L. Nichols ...
Abstract: The tectonic history of the Philippine Sea plate is an essential piece in understanding the tectonic evolution of Southeast Asia, but it is still unclear and controversial. We present the first geochemical data obtained from lavas from the Gagua Ridge (GR) within the Philippine Sea. The GR lavas exhibit geochemical signatures typical of subduction-related arc magmatism. Plagioclase Ar-Ar ages of ca. 124–123 Ma and subduction-related geochemical signatures support the formation of GR lavas in the vicinity of an arc during the Early Cretaceous induced by subduction of the oceanic plate along East Asia. The ages of trapped zircon xenocrysts within the GR lavas cluster at 250 Ma, 0.75 Ga, and 2.45 Ga and match well the ages of zircons recovered from the Cathaysian block, southern China. Our results imply that the GR basement is partially composed of continental material that rifted away from the Eurasian margin during opening and spreading of the Huatung Basin. The depleted mantle wedge-derived magmas evolved and picked up the continental zircons during ascent. The youngest zircon ages and the GR lava Ar-Ar ages (ca. 124–123 Ma) presented in this study newly constrain an Early Cretaceous age for the Huatung Basin. Our study provides further evidence that the Huatung Basin is a remnant of a Mesozoic-aged ocean basin that dispersed from southern China during the Cretaceous. Transport of continental slivers by growth and closure of marginal seas along the East Asia margin may have been more prevalent than previously recognized.
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Skarn fluid sources as indicators of timing of Cordilleran arc emergence and paleogeography in the southwestern United States
M. Gevedon; J.S. Lackey; J.D. Barnes
Abstract: Oxygen isotope ratios of garnet provide well-established means to investigate crustal fluid histories. Traditionally, δ18O values from skarn garnets have been used to track the hydrothermal evolution of an individual skarn body through time. We, however, use garnet from 14 skarns from the Jurassic (ca. 175 to ca. 148 Ma) Cordilleran margin arc (southwestern United States) to provide regional tectonic context to arc magmatism and hydrothermal activity. We document arc-wide garnet δ18O variability of ~19‰ (–8.9‰ to +10.3‰, n = 159), providing a record of contrasting meteoric fluid ingress between northern (Sierra Nevada) and southern (Mojave Desert) arc segments. Strongly negative garnet δ18O values (≤–3‰) are limited to the Mojave Desert arc segment and can only form in the presence of meteoric fluid, requiring shallow formation in subaerial crust. When combined with U-Pb garnet ages, the δ18O data provide a minimum radiometric age of local subaerial arc emergence and temporal constraint on the migration of the Jurassic paleoshoreline in the Mojave Desert section of the arc.
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Central eastern China hydrological changes and ENSO-like variability over the past 1800 yr
Shiwei Jiang; Xin Zhou; Julian P. Sachs; Wuhong Luo; Luyao Tu ...
Abstract: Variations in East Asian summer monsoon (EASM) precipitation impact agriculture, water resources, electricity generation, and economic development in the densely populated region of central eastern China. However, uncertainties remain in the history and driving mechanisms of precipitation changes in this region over the past two millennia. We present an 1800 yr multiproxy reconstruction of monsoon precipitation based on hydroclimate variations inferred from Lake Nvshan sediments in the Jiang-Huai region of central eastern China. We find that rainfall in the Jiang-Huai region was higher during the Little Ice Age (LIA) than during the Medieval Warm Period (MWP), and that these changes were modulated by the mean state of the tropical Pacific Ocean on centennial time scales. We infer that an El Niño–like (La Niña–like) mean state caused a strengthening and westward displacement (weakening and eastward displacement) of the Western Pacific Subtropical High (WPSH) and a weakening (strengthening) of the EASM, causing more (less) rainfall in the Jiang-Huai region during the LIA (MWP). These hydroclimate changes are likely to have been a response to changes in effective radiative forcing.
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Earthquake doublet revealed by multiple pulses in lacustrine seismo-turbidites

Katleen Wils; Maxim Deprez; Catherine Kissel; Morgan Vervoort; Maarten Van Daele ...
Abstract: Earthquake doublets have been described in fault systems around the world but have not yet been confidently resolved in paleoseismic records. Our current knowledge is limited to historical occurrences, preventing researchers from uncovering potential patterns or recognizing common fault behavior. Identification of prehistoric doublets is thus of crucial importance for adequate seismic hazard assessment and risk mitigation. We developed a new methodology to reveal the sedimentary imprint of earthquake doublets in lacustrine paleoseismic records based on flow direction analysis in multipulsed turbidites, because the delayed arrival of turbidity currents originating from the same source location demonstrates the occurrence of individual triggering mechanisms. As grains tend to align in the presence of a flow, we analyzed flow directions by determining the dominant orientation of elongated grains using a combination of grain size, paleomagnetism, and high-resolution X-ray computed tomography. This methodology was applied to a turbidite deposited by the 2007 CE earthquakes in West Sumatra (Mw 6.4 and 6.3, 2 h apart), and it provides the first unmistakable sedimentary evidence for an earthquake doublet. We argue that this methodology has great potential to be applied to multipulsed turbidites in various subaquatic paleoseismic records and can reveal the occurrence of unknown earthquake sequences.
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Emergent simplicity despite local complexity in eroding fluvial landscapes
Gareth G. Roberts
Abstract: Much of our current understanding of continental topographic evolution is rooted in measuring and predicting the rates at which rivers erode the landscape. Flume tank and field observations indicate that stochasticity and local conditions play important roles in determining rates at small scales (e.g., <10 km, thousands of years). Obversely, preserved river profiles and common shapes of rivers atop uplifting topography indicate that erosion rates are predictable at larger scales. These observations indicate that the response of rivers to forcing can be scale dependent. I demonstrate that erosional thresholds can provide an explanation for why profile evolution can be very complicated and unique at small scales yet simple and predictable at large scales.
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Quaternary sodic and potassic intraplate volcanism in northeast China controlled by the underlying heterogeneous lithospheric structures
Xingli Fan; Qi-Fu Chen; Yinshuang Ai; Ling Chen; Mingming Jiang ...
Abstract: The origin and mantle dynamics of the Quaternary intraplate sodic and potassic volcanism in northeast China have long been intensely debated. We present a high-resolution, three-dimensional (3-D) crust and upper-mantle S-wave velocity (Vs) model of northeast China by combining ambient noise and earthquake two-plane wave tomography based on unprecedented regional dense seismic arrays. Our seismic images highlight a strong correlation between the basalt geochemistry and upper-mantle seismic velocity structure: Sodic volcanoes are all characterized by prominent low seismic velocities in the uppermost mantle, while potassic volcanoes still possess a normal but thin upper-mantle “lid” depicted by high seismic velocities. Combined with previous petrological and geochemical research findings, we propose that the rarely erupted Quaternary potassic volcanism in northeast China results from the interaction between asthenospheric low-degree melts and the overlying subcontinental lithospheric mantle. In contrast, the more widespread Quaternary sodic volcanism in this region is predominantly sourced from the upwelling asthenosphere without significant overprinting from the subcontinental lithospheric mantle.
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Staged formation of the supergiant Olympic Dam uranium deposit, Australia
Kathy Ehrig; Vadim S. Kamenetsky; Jocelyn McPhie; Edeltraud Macmillan; Jay Thompson ...
Abstract: The origins of many supergiant ore deposits remain unresolved because the factors responsible for such extreme metal enrichments are not understood. One factor of critical importance is the timing of mineralization. However, timing information is commonly confounded by the difficulty of dating ore minerals. The world’s largest uranium resource at Olympic Dam, South Australia, is exceptional because the high abundance of U allows U-Pb dating of ore minerals. The Olympic Dam U(-Cu-Au-Ag) ore deposit is hosted in ca. 1.59 Ga rocks, and the consensus has been that the supergiant deposit formed at the same time. We argue that, in fact, two stages of mineralization were involved. Paired in situ U-Pb and trace element analyses of texturally distinct uraninite populations show that the supergiant size and highest-U-grade zones are the result of U addition at 0.7–0.5 Ga, at least one billion years after initial formation. This conclusion is supported by a remarkable clustering of thousands of radiogenic 207Pb/206Pb model ages of Cu sulfide grains at this time. Upgrading of the original ca. 1.59 Ga U deposit to its present size at 0.7–0.5 Ga may have resulted from perturbation of regional fluid flow triggered by global climatic (deglaciation) and tectonic (breakup of Rodinia) events.
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Precession-driven climate cycles and time scale prior to the Hirnantian glacial maximum
M. Sinnesael; P.I. McLaughlin; A. Desrochers; A. Mauviel; J. De Weirdt ...
Abstract: Paleozoic astrochronologies are limited by uncertainties in past astronomical configurations and the availability of complete stratigraphic sections with precise, independent age control. We show it is possible to reconstruct a robust Paleozoic ~104-yr-resolution astrochronology in the well-preserved and thick Upper Ordovician reference record of Anticosti Island (Canada). The clear imprint of astronomical cycles, including ~18 k.y. precession, potential obliquity, and short and long eccentricity, constrains the entire Vauréal Formation (~1 km thick) to only ~3 m.y. in total, representing ~10 times higher accumulation rates than previously suggested. This ~104 yr resolution represents an order of magnitude increase in the current standard temporal resolution for the Katian and even allows for the detection of sub-Milankovitch climate-scale variability. The loss of a clear precession signal in the uppermost Vauréal Formation might be related to contemporaneous global cooling prior to the Hirnantian glacial maximum as indicated by the δ18O record. Complementary to the study of cyclostratigraphy of longer and often simplified records, it is important to recognize stratigraphic hiatuses and complexities on the ~104 yr scale to achieve robust sub-eccentricity-scale Paleozoic astrochronologies.
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Magnetostratigraphy across the end-Permian mass extinction event from the Meishan sections, southeastern China
Min Zhang; Hua-Feng Qin; Kuang He; Yi-Fei Hou; Quan-Feng Zheng ...
Abstract: The end-Permian mass extinction (EPME) has been recorded as the most severe biodiversity crisis in Earth’s history, although the timing of the marine and terrestrial extinctions remains debatable. We present a new high-resolution magnetostratigraphic succession across the EPME and the Permian-Triassic boundary (PTB) from the Meishan sections in southeastern China, which contain the global boundary stratotype section and point (GSSP) for the base of the Triassic (also the Induan Stage) and the base of the Changhsingian Stage. We identified five normal and five reverse magnetozones, including MS1n to MS5n and MS1r to MS5r, from oldest to youngest, in the Changhsingian and Induan Stages. The Induan Stage was determined to consist of two polarity intervals, where the upper one is reverse (MS5r), and the lower one is normal (MS5n). The Changhsingian Stage is dominated by normal polarity, intercalated with four short-term reverse magnetozones (MS1r to MS4r). Consequently, the PTB and the Wuchiapingian-Changhsingian boundary are clearly located in MS5n and MS1n, respectively. These new magnetostratigraphic results provide a potential reference geomagnetic polarity pattern with which to refine the geomagnetic polarity time scale for the EPME and the Permian-Triassic transition.
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Anoxic depositional overprinting of 238U/235U in calcite: When do carbonates tell black shale tales?
Xinming Chen; Stephen J. Romaniello; Michael McCormick; Alyssa Sherry; Jeff R. Havig ...
Abstract: The fidelity of uranium isotopes (δ238U) in marine carbonates as a paleoredox proxy relies on whether carbonates can record and preserve seawater δ238U. Although modern carbonate sediments deposited under oxic conditions have been shown to track seawater δ238U, it remains unknown whether this is true for carbonates deposited under anoxic conditions. This is a crucial question because many ancient carbonates were likely deposited or reworked under anoxic bottom waters. To better understand the behavior of uranium isotopes under this scenario, we investigated U isotope geochemistry in the meromictic Fayetteville Green Lake (FGL; New York, USA), where primary calcite is precipitated from oxic surface waters, sinks past the chemocline, and is deposited under anoxic bottom waters. We observed significant depletions of dissolved U concentration (from 2.7 to 0.9 ppb) and δ238U (from –0.55‰ to –0.96‰) below the chemocline in FGL. Parallel with these depletions, δ238U of sediment traps increased progressively from –0.51‰ to –0.16‰, suggesting that U(VI) reduction was occurring in the anoxic water column. Carbonate sediments deposited under anoxic bottom waters were enriched in U by 6–18× compared to primary calcite. Our data suggest that such significant authigenic U enrichments resulted from U(VI) reduction in the anoxic water column and below the sediment-water interface. The δ238U value in the top 0.25 cm of sediments was –0.29‰ ± 0.10‰, overprinting original δ238U in primary calcite (–0.51‰ ± 0.02‰). Future applications of carbonate δ238U as a paleoredox proxy should consider depositional environments (oxic vs. anoxic) of carbonates.
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Early Neoproterozoic (870–820 Ma) amalgamation of the Tarim craton (northwestern China) and the final assembly of Rodinia
Pan Zhao; Jinyou He; Chenglong Deng; Yan Chen; Ross N. Mitchell
Abstract: In the paleogeographic configuration of the Neoproterozoic supercontinent of Rodinia, the Tarim craton (northwestern China), traditionally seen as a single block, is placed either on the periphery near northern Australia or India or in a central position between Australia and Laurentia. To distinguish between these possibilities, we present here new primary paleomagnetic results from ca. 900 Ma volcanics in the Aksu region of the northwestern Tarim craton. The data reveal a ~28° latitudinal difference between the North Tarim and South Tarim blocks at ca. 900 Ma and constrain the age of amalgamation of the Tarim craton to between 870 and 820 Ma. Combining paleomagnetic poles from Tarim and major cratons of Rodinia with geological evidence, a two-stage orogenic model is proposed for the assembly of Rodinia. Late Mesoproterozoic orogenesis (1.3–1.0 Ga) led to the assembly of Australia–East Antarctica, Baltica, Umkondia, South Tarim, and Cathaysia with Laurentia, forming the core of Rodinia. Thereafter, the Jiangnan–Central Tarim Ocean separating North Tarim and Yangtze from South Tarim and Cathaysia was closed before ca. 820 Ma. This second Jiangnan–Central Tarim orogeny caused nearly coeval amalgamation of the peripheral Tarim and South China cratons by the welding of North Tarim and Yangtze to South Tarim and Cathaysia, respectively. The supercontinent of Rodinia was thus assembled by two orogenic phases separated by ~200 m.y.
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Tectonic pressure gradients during viscous creep drive fluid flow and brittle failure at the base of the seismogenic zone
Luca Menegon; Åke Fagereng
Abstract: Fluid-pressure cycles are commonly invoked to explain alternating frictional and viscous deformation at the base of the seismogenic crust. However, the stress conditions and geological environment of fluid-pressure cycling are unclear. We address this problem by detailed structural investigation of a vein-bearing shear zone at Sagelvvatn, northern Norwegian Caledonides. In this dominantly viscous shear zone, synkinematic quartz veins locally crosscut mylonitic fabric at a high angle and are rotated and folded with the same sense of shear as the mylonite. Chlorite thermometry indicates that both veining and mylonitization occurred at ~315–400 °C. The vein-filled fractures are interpreted as episodically triggered by viscous creep in the mylonite, where quartz piezometry and brittle failure modes are consistent with low (18–44 MPa) differential stress. The Sagelvvatn shear zone is a stretching shear zone, where elevated pressure drives a hydraulic gradient that expels fluids from the shear zone to the host rocks. In low-permeability shear zones, this hydraulic gradient facilitates buildup of pore-fluid pressure until the hydrofracture criterion is reached and tensile fractures open. We propose that hydraulic gradients established by local and cyclic pressure variations during viscous creep can drive episodic fluid escape and result in brittle-viscous fault slip at the base of the seismogenic crust.
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Construction of the Lesser Himalayan–Subhimalayan thrust belt: The primary driver of thickening, exhumation, and high elevations in the Himalayan orogen since the middle Miocene
Sean P. Long; Delores M. Robinson
Abstract: Documenting the structural evolution of the Himalayan orogen is fundamental for understanding the dynamics of collisional orogenesis. We argue that the importance of deformation in the frontal, Lesser Himalayan–Subhimalayan (LH-SH) portion of the Himalayan thrust belt for driving crustal thickening over the past ~15–13 m.y. has long been overlooked. To quantify its contribution to thickening, we measured parameters from 22 published cross sections that span the length of the orogen. The mean structural uplift accomplished by the LH-SH thrust belt increases from 10–15 km in the eastern half of the orogen to 15–23 km in the western half. An antiformal culmination constructed by LH duplexing is observed across the orogen and increases in structural height (to as much as 15–20 km) and north-south width moving westward. Construction of the culmination was the primary mechanism for building and maintaining wedge taper. The westward scaling of culmination size is accompanied by doubling and tripling of LH-SH shortening and accretion magnitude, respectively; when combined with a consistent orogen-wide modern taper angle (11° ± 2°), this indicates that duplexing facilitated the growth of an overall larger orogenic wedge moving westward. Following the initial southward propagation of deformation into LH rocks at ca. 15–13 Ma, the Himalayan orogenic wedge has been characterized by stacking of multiple thin, smalldisplacement thrust sheets to develop a high-taper orogenic wedge. Thus, LH-SH deformation has had a profound effect on driving thickening, exhumation, and the attainment of high elevations since the middle Miocene.
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Earth’s new tectonic regime at the dawn of the Paleoproterozoic: Hf isotope evidence for efficient crustal growth and reworking in the São Francisco craton, Brazil
Henrique Bruno; Monica Heilbron; Rob Strachan; Mike Fowler; Claudio de Morisson Valeriano ...
Abstract: A zircon Hf isotope data set from Archean and Paleoproterozoic magmatic and metasedimentary rocks of the southern São Francisco craton (Brazil) is interpreted as evidence of accretionary and collisional plate tectonics since at least the Archean-Proterozoic boundary. During the Phanerozoic, accretionary and collisional orogenies are considered the end members of different plate tectonic settings, both involving preexisting stable continental lithosphere and consumption of oceanic crust. However, mechanisms for the formation of continental crust during the Archean and Paleoproterozoic are still debated, with the addition of magmatic rocks to the crust being explained by different geodynamic models. Hf isotopes can be used to quantify the proportion of magmatic addition into the crust: positive εHf values are usually interpreted as indications of magmatic input from the mantle, whereas crust-derived rocks show more negative εHf. We show that the crust of the amalgamated Paleoproterozoic tectonostratigraphic terranes that make up the southern São Francisco craton were generated from different proportions of mantle and crustal isotopic reservoirs. Plate tectonic processes are implied by a consistent sequence of events involving (1) the generation of juvenile subduction-related magmatic arc rocks, followed by (2) collisional orogenesis and remelting of older crust, and (3) post-collisional bimodal magmatism.
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Phanerozoic record of mantle-dominated arc magmatic surges in the Zealandia Cordillera
M.F. Ringwood; J.J. Schwartz; R.E. Turnbull; A.J. Tulloch
Abstract: We integrated new and existing bedrock and detrital zircon dates from the Zealandia Cordillera to explore the tempo of Phanerozoic arc magmatism along the paleo-Pacific margin of southeast Gondwana. We found that episodic magmatism was dominated by two high-magma-addition-rate (MAR) events spaced ~250 m.y. apart in the Devonian (370–368 Ma) and the Early Cretaceous (129–105 Ma). The intervening interval between high-MAR events was characterized by prolonged, low-MAR activity in a geographically stable location for more than 100 m.y. We found that the two high-MAR events in Zealandia have distinct chemistries (S-type for the Devonian and I-type for the Cretaceous) and are unlikely to have been related by a repeating, cyclical process. Like other well-studied arc systems worldwide, the Zealandia Cordillera high-MAR events were associated with upper-plate deformation; however, the magmatic events were triggered by enhanced asthenospheric mantle melting in two distinct arc-tectonic settings—a retreating slab and an advancing slab, respectively. Our results demonstrate that dynamic changes in the subducting slab were primary controls in triggering mantle flare-up events in the Phanerozoic Zealandia Cordillera.
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Contamination of the Bushveld Complex (South Africa) magmas by basinal brines: Stable isotopes in phlogopite from the UG2 chromitite
Haoyang Zhou; Robert B. Trumbull; Ilya V. Veksler; Ilya N. Bindeman; Johannes Glodny ...
Abstract: There is abundant evidence for significant H2O in evolved melts from the platinum-rich UG2 chromitite and the Merensky Reef of the Bushveld Complex (South Africa), but there is no consensus about the source of H2O. We report triple-oxygen and hydrogen isotope ratios of interstitial, late-magmatic phlogopite from three localities of the UG2 layer. The phlogopite yielded δD values of –43‰ to –23‰, which is >30‰ higher than previously known from Bushveld rocks and far above the mantle values of ~–75‰. The phlogopite triple-oxygen isotope ratios are the first to be reported for Bushveld rocks, with values of Δ′17O0.5305 (17O excess relative to the reference line 0.5305) from –0.069‰ to –0.044‰ (δ18O 5.2‰–6.2‰). The oxygen data support existing models of as much as 30%–40% contamination of mantlederived magmas in the lower to middle crust. However, the high δ values require a second step of contamination, which we attribute to brines from the marine sediments in the Transvaal Basin at the emplacement level.
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Deformation-induced Japan twinning in quartz during incipient mylonitization
Michel Bestmann; Giorgio Pennacchioni; Bernhard Grasemann
Abstract: Many crystalline rocks of the continental crust contain coarse-grained quartz as a main mineral (e.g., granitoids). Incipient deformation of coarse quartz, which likely controls the accumulation of bulk strain in heterogeneously deformed crustal rock volumes, commonly develops microshear zones (MSZs) of localized recrystallization. At mid-crustal conditions, where quartz deformation is mostly accomplished by subgrain rotation recrystallization, grains of MSZs can show an abrupt change in crystallographic orientation (large misorientation angle) with respect to the host quartz that is still not fully understood. We analyzed MSZs (20–200 μm thick) from deformed coarse-grained (millimeter grain size) quartz veins in the Austroalpine Schobergruppe (Eastern Alps). Electron backscatter diffraction analysis reveals that the MSZs are characterized by a nearly 90° misorientation angle between the c-axes of the host and new grains, which also share one {m} and one {1122} pole, compatible with Japan twinning. This abrupt switch of the c-axis orientation can promote geometrical softening and shear localization. So far, Japan twinning has been interpreted as a growth feature. We show that deformation-induced twinning in quartz, including Japan and Dauphiné twinning, can play an important role in initiation of crystal-plastic deformation within the crust.
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