News Release

New Geology articles published online ahead of print in December

Peer-Reviewed Publication

Geological Society of America

Boulder, Colo., USA: Article topics and locations include methane seeps as refugia; silver sources of Roman coinage; early Earth zircons; the southwestern Laurentide Ice Sheet; the Siljan impact structure, Sweden; the importance of oxbow lakes in the floodplain storage of pollutants; joint earthquake ruptures of the San Andreas and San Jacinto faults; contemporary and future dust sources; and soft-tissue preservation in ammonoids. These Geology articles are online at


When did the North Anatolian fault reach southern Marmara, Turkey?
Volkan Karabacak; Taylan Sançar; Gökhan Yildirim; I. Tonguç Uysal
Abstract: We dated syntectonic calcites on fault planes from the southern branch of the western North Anatolian fault (NAF) in northern Turkey using U-Th geochronology. We selected strike-slip faults that are kinematically related to the current regional strain field. The isotopic ages cluster around different periods during the past ~700 k.y. The most prominent cluster peak of 510.5 ± 9.5 ka (1σ) is consistent with the maximum cumulative strike-slip offset data and tectonic plate motions measured by GPS data, highlighting the fact that the present configuration of the NAF in the southern Marmara region started at ca. 500 ka or earlier. These new isotopic ages, combined with previous considerations of regional tectonics, reveal that faulting along the western NAF initiated primarily in the southern Marmara region at least a few hundred thousand years earlier than the timing suggested for the northern branch of the western NAF. This study presents an innovative approach to constrain the timing of initiation of currently active fault segments along the NAF in southern Marmara. U-Th geochronology of fault-hosted calcite thus has a wide application in determining absolute ages of fault episodes in wider shear zones along plate boundaries.
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Early Earth zircons formed in residual granitic melts produced by tonalite differentiation
Oscar Laurent; Jean-François Moyen; Jörn-Frederik Wotzlaw; Jana Björnsen; Olivier Bachmann
Abstract: The oldest geological materials on Earth are Hadean (>4 Ga) detrital zircon grains. Their chemistry and apparently low Ti-in-zircon temperatures (≤700 °C) are considered to be inconsistent with crystallization in a magma of the tonalite-trondhjemite-granodiorite (TTG) suite, although these are the dominant Archean (4.0–2.5 Ga) silicic rocks. Using a new data set of trace element contents in zircons from Paleoarchean Barberton TTGs (South Africa) and thermodynamic modeling, we show that these zircons have crystallized at near-solidus conditions from a compositionally uniform granitic melt. This melt is residual from the crystallization of a less evolved (tonalitic) parent and thereby shows major and trace element compositions different from bulk TTG rocks. A global compilation reveals that most Hadean detrital and Archean TTG-hosted grains share a peculiar zircon trace element signature that is distinct from the chemical trends defined by Phanerozoic zircons. Our model shows that the low Ti contents of early Earth zircons reflect crystallization at higher temperatures (720–800 °C) than initially inferred due to lower modeled TiO2 activity in the melt relative to previous estimates. We therefore propose that near-solidus zircon crystallization from a chemically evolved melt in a TTG-like magmatic environment was the dominant zircon-forming process on the early Earth.
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Role of sediment in generating contemporaneous, diverse “type” granitoid magmas
Shan Li; Calvin F. Miller; Wang Tao; Wenjiao Xiao; David Chew
Abstract: Granite typology categorizes granitoid rocks based upon distinguishing characteristics that are interpreted to indicate sources, conditions of generation, and, by implication, tectonic setting. Complexities of elemental and isotopic geochemistry, however, commonly preclude simple typological interpretation and suggest more complex petrogenetic histories. Granitoids from the Songpan-Ganzi terrane in the eastern Tibetan Plateau were emplaced within a short interval (~15 m.y.). They display mineralogical and geochemical characteristics that are consistent with a wide range of proposed typologies (I-, S-, and A-type; high Ba-Sr and adakitic variants). Despite their close spatial and temporal association, these granitoids exhibit diversity in geochemical characteristics that indicates a broad spectrum of contributing sources. Radiogenic isotope data reveal a continuum from primitive to evolved crustal compositions; i.e., 87Sr/86Sr(t) = 0.704–0.715 and εNd(t) = +2 to –11. All granitoid “types” have variable but commonly high zircon δ18O (+4.1‰ to +11.6‰) and low whole-rock Li-B-Mg isotopic ratios compared to mantle and/or seawater (δ7Li = +5.1‰ to –3.2‰; δ11B = –10.7‰ to –16.5‰; δ26Mg = –0.23‰ to –0.59‰). These stable isotopic compositions suggest that the Songpan-Ganzi granitic magmas of all “types” had contributions from sediment, ranging from minor to dominant. The highly variable isotopic compositions of the granitoids rule out a single homogeneous source for these diverse yet contemporaneous granitoids. Their compositional variability may have been significantly influenced by sedimentary contributions, and these results demonstrate the difficulty of straightforward assignment and interpretation of granitoids using conventional typology.
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Crustal thickness of the Grenville orogen: A Mesoproterozoic Tibet?
Adam Brudner; Hehe Jiang; Xu Chu; Ming Tang
Abstract: The Grenville Province on the eastern margin of Laurentia is a remnant of a Mesoproterozoic orogenic plateau that comprised the core of the ancient supercontinent Rodinia. As a protracted Himalayan-style orogen, its orogenic history is vital to understanding Mesoproterozoic tectonics and paleoenvironmental evolution. In this study, we compared two geochemical proxies for crustal thickness: whole-rock [La/Yb]N ratios of intermediate-to-felsic rocks and europium anomalies (Eu/Eu*) in detrital zircons. We compiled whole-rock geochemical data from 124 plutons in the Laurentian Grenville Province and collected trace-element and geochronological data from detrital zircons from the Ottawa and St. Lawrence River (Canada) watersheds. Both proxies showed several episodes of crustal thickening and thinning during Grenvillian orogenesis. The thickest crust developed in the Ottawan phase (~60 km at ca. 1080 Ma and ca. 1045 Ma), when the collision culminated, but it was still up to 20 km thinner than modern Tibet. We speculate that a hot crust and several episodes of crustal thinning prevented the Grenville hinterland from forming a high Tibet-like plateau, possibly due to enhanced asthenosphere-lithosphere interactions in response to a warm mantle beneath a long-lived supercontinent, Nuna-Rodinia.
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Methane seeps as refugia during ash falls in the Late Cretaceous Western Interior Seaway of North America
Shannon K. Brophy; Matthew P. Garb; Jone Naujokaityte; James D. Witts; Neil H. Landman ...
Abstract: Methane seeps host rich biotic communities, forming patchy yet highly productive ecosystems across the global ocean. Persistent hydrocarbon emissions fuel chemosynthetic food webs at seeps. Methane seeps were abundant in the Western Interior Seaway of North America during the Late Cretaceous. This area also experienced intermittent ash falls, which negatively impacted the marine fauna. We propose that methane seeps acted as refugia during these environmental perturbations. We report a laterally continuous bentonite within the upper Campanian Baculites compressus Zone of the Pierre Shale in southwestern South Dakota (USA) that fortuitously cuts across a methane seep deposit. We compare the macroinvertebrate record below and above the bentonite at seep and non-seep sites. Our results reveal that the paleocommunity (measured by abundance and diversity) was largely unaffected by the ash fall at the seep site, whereas it was significantly altered at the non-seep site. Thus, methane seeps in the Western Interior Seaway may have provided refuges or served as oases in the aftermath of severe environmental perturbations.
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Silver isotope and volatile trace element systematics in galena samples from the Iberian Peninsula and the quest for silver sources of Roman coinage
Jean Milot; Janne Blichert-Toft; Mariano Ayarzagüena Sanz; Chloé Malod-Dognin
Abstract: Silver played a key role in the progressive monetization of early Mediterranean civilizations. We combine Pb and Ag isotopes with volatile trace elements (Bi, Sb, and As) to assess whether, during the Roman occupation of Iberia, galena constituted a significant source of silver. We find that the Pb and Ag isotopic compositions of 47 samples of galena from eight different Iberian mining provinces, many of them exploited during Roman times, are uncorrelated. This indicates that their respective isotopic variabilities depend on different petrogenetic processes. Moreover, the range of Ag isotopic abundances is approximately six times wider than that displayed worldwide by silver coins in general and Roman silver coins in particular. Although galena from the Betics provides the best fit for Pb isotopes with Roman coins, their fit with Ag isotopic compositions is at best sporadic. We suggest that, together with Sb, Bi, and As, silver is primarily derived from fluids boiled off from differentiated mantle-derived magmas. These fluids, in turn, reacted with preexisting galena and functioned as a silver trap. Lead sulfides with ε109Ag of ~0 and unusually rich in Ag, Sb, Bi, and As were the most probable sources of ancient silver, whereas samples with ε109Ag departing significantly from ~0 reflect low-temperature isotopic fractionation processes in the upper crust.
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Rapid retreat of the southwestern Laurentide Ice Sheet during the Bølling-Allerød interval
Sophie Norris; Lev Tarasov; Alistair J. Monteath; John C. Gosse; Alan J. Hidy ...
Abstract: The timing of Laurentide Ice Sheet deglaciation along its southwestern margin controlled the evolution of large glacial lakes and has implications for human migration into the Americas. Accurate reconstruction of the ice sheet’s retreat also constrains glacial isostatic adjustment models and is important for understanding ice-sheet sensitivity to climate forcing. Despite its significance, retreat of the southwestern Laurentide Ice Sheet (SWLIS) is poorly constrained by minimum-limiting 14C data. We present 26 new cosmogenic 10Be exposure ages spanning the western Interior Plains, Canada. Using a Bayesian framework, we combine these data with geomorphic mapping, 10Be, and high-quality minimum-limiting 14C ages to provide an updated chronology. This dataset presents an internally consistent retreat record and indicates that the initial detachment of the SWLIS from its convergence with the Cordilleran Ice Sheet began by ca. 15.0 ka, concurrent with or slightly prior to the onset of the Bølling-Allerød interval (14.7–12.9 ka) and retreated >1200 km to its Younger Dryas (YD) position in ~2500 yr. Ice-sheet stabilization at the Cree Lake Moraine facilitated a meltwater drainage route to the Arctic from glacial Lake Agassiz within the YD, but not necessarily at the beginning. Our record of deglaciation and new YD constraints demonstrate deglaciation of the Interior Plains was ~60% faster than suggested by minimum 14C constraints alone. Numerical modeling of this rapid retreat estimates a loss of ~3.7 m of sea-level equivalent from the SWLIS during the Bølling-Allerød interval.
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Magmatic sill formation during dike opening
Zhonglan Liu; W. Roger Buck
Abstract: The origin of horizontal magma-filled sills is disputed, particularly for extensional settings where the opening of vertical dikes is the predicted mode of magma intrusion. We simulate long-term extension followed by short-term dike opening in a two-dimensional viscoelastic medium representing a plate spreading center. We show that dike opening in extensionally stressed lithosphere can reduce sublithospheric vertical stresses enough for sill opening given three conditions: (1) the Maxwell time of the asthenosphere is <5× the time interval between dike episodes; (2) the average density of the lithosphere is not much greater than the magma density; and (3) the depth of an axial valley is smaller than a few hundred meters. This mechanism explains the presence of sills along much of the axis of faster-spreading ridges and their absence along slower-spreading centers where thick dense lithosphere and/or sizeable axial valleys exist.
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Empirical constraints on progressive shock metamorphism of magnetite from the Siljan impact structure, Sweden

Sanna Holm-Alwmark; Timmons M. Erickson; Aaron J. Cavosie
Abstract: Little is known about the microstructural behavior of magnetite during hypervelocity impact events, even though it is a widespread accessory mineral and an important magnetic carrier in terrestrial and extraterrestrial rocks. We report systematic electron backscatter diffraction crystallographic analysis of shock features in magnetite from a transect across the 52-km-diameter ca. 380 Ma Siljan impact structure in Sweden. Magnetite grains in granitoid samples contain brittle fracturing, crystal-plasticity, and lamellar twins. Deformation twins along {111} with shear direction of <112> are consistent with spinel-law twins. Inferred bulk shock pressures for the investigated samples, as constrained by planar deformation features (PDFs) in quartz and shock twins in zircon, range from 0 to 20 GPa; onset of shock-induced twinning in magnetite is observed at >5 GPa. These results highlight the utility of magnetite to record shock deformation in rocks that experience shock pressures >5 GPa, which may be useful in quartz-poor samples. Despite significant hydrothermal alteration and the variable transformation of host magnetite to hematite, shock effects are preserved, which demonstrates that magnetite is a reliable mineral for preserving shock deformation over geologic time.
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Whole-lithosphere shear during oblique rifting
Brandon M. Lutz; Gary J. Axen; Jolante W. van Wijk; Fred M. Phillips
Abstract: Processes controlling the formation of continental whole-lithosphere shear zones are debated, but their existence requires that the lithosphere is mechanically coupled from base to top. We document the formation of a dextral, whole-lithosphere shear zone in the Death Valley region (DVR), southwest United States. Dextral deflections of depth gradients in the lithosphere-asthenosphere boundary and Moho are stacked vertically, defining a 20–50-km-wide, lower lithospheric shear zone with ~60 km of shear. These deflections underlie an upper-crustal fault zone that accrued ~60 km of dextral slip since ca. 8–7 Ma, when we infer that whole-lithosphere shear began. This dextral offset is less than net dextral offset on the upper-crustal fault zone (~90 km, ca. 13–0 Ma) and total upper-crustal extension (~250 km, ca. 16–0 Ma). We show that, before ca. 8–7 Ma, weak middle crust decoupled upper-crustal deformation from deformation in the lower crust and mantle lithosphere. Between 16 and 7 Ma, detachment slip thinned, uplifted, cooled, and thus strengthened the middle crust, which is exposed in metamorphic core complexes collocated with the whole-lithosphere shear zone. Midcrustal strengthening coupled the layered lithosphere vertically and therefore enabled whole-lithosphere dextral shear. Where thick crust exists (as in pre–16 Ma DVR), midcrustal strengthening is probably a necessary condition for whole-lithosphere shear.
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The importance of oxbow lakes in the floodplain storage of pollutants

Summer-Solstice Thomas; José Antonio Constantine; David Dethier; John W. Thoman, Jr.; Jason Racela ...
Abstract: Oxbow lakes are important stores for fine-grained sediment, which potentially makes them critical sinks for sediment-associated pollutants. We leverage an exhaustive public archive of coring data, supplemented by our data collection, to provide a quantitative assessment of the role of oxbows as off-channel sinks. We investigated loading trends of sediment-sorbed polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) within oxbows of the Housatonic River, an actively meandering river in western Massachusetts, USA. Our results reveal the efficiency of oxbows as sinks, with average PCB concentrations (14.8 ppm) that are nearly twice that of the surrounding floodplain (7.56 ppm). Even though the 5.83 km2 floodplain is the largest sink of PCB-laden material, storing as much as 14.1 t of PCBs or 2.42 g m–2, oxbows store more than 20% of all PCBs (3.63 t of PCBs or 11.2 g m–2) while making up just over 5% of the floodplain surface area. Nearly 85% of the oxbow storage of PCBs occurs within the first 50 m of floodplain, making clear the significance of regular oxbow production to the off-channel storage of sediment-associated pollutants.
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Can coseismic static stress changes sustain postseismic degassing?
Marco Bonini
Abstract: Earthquakes can trigger increased degassing in hydrogeological systems. Many of these systems return to preseismic conditions after months, but sometimes postseismic degassing lasts for years. The factors controlling such long-lasting degassing are poorly known. I explored the potential role of diverse triggering mechanisms (i.e., dynamic and static stress changes, volumetric strain) for three large earthquakes that induced postseismic degassing (the Wenchuan [China], Maule [Chile], and Gorkha [Nepal] earthquakes). The lessons from this study suggest that hydrogeological systems can respond to earthquakes in various ways, and different causal mechanisms can play a role. Persistent increased CO2 flux from hot springs has been documented after the Gorkha earthquake. These hot springs had their feeder systems dominantly unclamped, suggesting that sufficiently large normal stress changes may sustain late postseismic degassing. The results of this study are twofold: (1) they show a spatial correlation between unclamping stress and increased gas flow, and (2) they provide an explanation for protracted increased degassing.
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Joint earthquake ruptures of the San Andreas and San Jacinto faults, California, USA
Alba M. Rodriguez Padilla; Michael E. Oskin; Thomas K. Rockwell; Irina Delusina; Drake M. Singleton
Abstract: Large, multi-fault earthquakes increase the threat of strong ground shaking and reshape the probability of future events across a system of faults. Fault junctions act as conditional barriers, or earthquake gates, that stop most earthquakes but permit junction-spanning events when stress conditions are favorable. Constraining the physical conditions that favor multi-fault earthquakes requires information on the frequency of isolated events versus events that activate faults through the junction. Measuring this frequency is challenging because dating uncertainties limit correlation of paleoseismic events at different faults, requiring a direct approach to measuring rupture through an earthquake gate. We show through documentation and finite-element modeling of secondary fault slip that co-rupture of the San Andreas and San Jacinto faults (California, USA) through the Cajon Pass earthquake gate occurred at least three times in the past 2000 yr, most recently in the historic 1812 CE earthquake. Our models show that gate-breaching events taper steeply and halt abruptly as they transfer slip between faults. Comparison to independent chronologies shows that 20%–23% of earthquakes on the San Andreas and the San Jacinto faults are co-ruptures through Cajon Pass.
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Flexural strike-slip basins

Derek Neuharth; Sascha Brune; Anne Glerum; Chris K. Morley; Xiaoping Yuan ...
Abstract: Strike-slip faults are classically associated with pull-apart basins where continental crust is thinned between two laterally offset fault segments. We propose a subsidence mechanism to explain the formation of a new type of basin where no substantial segment offset or syn-strike-slip thinning is observed. Such “flexural strike-slip basins” form due to a sediment load creating accommodation space by bending the lithosphere. We use a two-way coupling between the geodynamic code ASPECT and surface-processes code FastScape to show that flexural strike-slip basins emerge if sediment is deposited on thin lithosphere close to a strike-slip fault. These conditions were met at the Andaman Basin Central fault (Andaman Sea, Indian Ocean), where seismic reflection data provide evidence of a laterally extensive flexural basin with a depocenter located parallel to the strike-slip fault trace.
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Correlative tomography of an exceptionally preserved Jurassic ammonite implies hyponome-propelled swimming
Lesley Cherns; Alan R.T. Spencer; Imran A. Rahman; Russell J. Garwood; Christopher Reedman ...
Abstract: The extreme rarity of soft-tissue preservation in ammonoids has meant there are open questions regarding fundamental aspects of their biology. We report an exceptionally preserved Middle Jurassic ammonite with unrivaled information on soft-body organization interpreted through correlative neutron and X-ray tomography. Three-dimensional imaging of muscles and organs of the body mass for the first time in this iconic fossil group provides key insights into functional morphology. We show that paired dorsal muscles withdrew the body into the shell, rather than acting with the funnel controlling propulsion as in Nautilus. This suggests a mobile, retractable body as a defense strategy and necessitates a distinct swimming mechanism of hyponome propulsion, a trait that we infer evolved early in the ammonoid-coleoid lineage.
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Moho carbonation at an ocean-continent transition
Rémi Coltat; Philippe Boulvais; Yannick Branquet; Antonin Richard; Alexandre Tarantola ...
Abstract: Carbonation of mantle rocks during mantle exhumation is reported in present-day oceanic settings, both at mid-ocean ridges and ocean-continent transitions (OCTs). However, the hydrothermal conditions of carbonation (i.e., fluid sources, thermal regimes) during mantle exhumation remain poorly constrained. We focus on an exceptionally well-preserved fossil OCT where mantle rocks have been exhumed and carbonated along a detachment fault from underneath the continent to the seafloor along a tectonic Moho. Stable isotope (oxygen and carbon) analyses on calcite indicate that carbonation resulted from the mixing between serpentinization-derived fluids at ~175 °C and seawater. Strontium isotope compositions suggest interactions between seawater and the continental crust prior to carbonation. This shows that carbonation along the tectonic Moho occurs below the continental crust and prior to mantle exhumation at the seafloor during continental breakup.
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Quantifying metasomatic high-field-strength and rare-earth element transport from alkaline magmas
Krzysztof Sokół; Adrian A. Finch; William Hutchison; Jonathan Cloutier; Anouk M. Borst ...
Abstract: Alkaline igneous rocks host many global high-field-strength element (HFSE) and rare-earth element (REE) deposits. While HFSEs are commonly assumed to be immobile in hydrothermal systems, transport by late-stage hydrothermal fluids associated with alkaline magmas is reported. However, the magnitude of the flux and the conditions are poorly constrained and yet essential to understanding the formation of REE-HFSE ores. We examined the alteration of country rocks (“fenitization”) accompanying the emplacement of a syenite magma at Illerfissalik in Greenland, through analysis of changes in rock chemistry, mineralogy, and texture. Our novel geochemical maps show a 400-m-wide intrusion aureole, within which we observed typically tenfold increases in the concentrations of many elements, including HFSEs. Textures suggest both pervasive and structurally hosted fluid flow, with initial reaction occurring with the protolith’s quartz cement, leading to increased permeability and enhancing chemical interaction with a mixed Ca-K-Na fenitizing fluid. We estimated the HFSE masses transferred from the syenite to the fenite by this fluid and found ~43 Mt of REEs were mobilized (~12% of the syenite-fenite system total rare-earth-oxide [TREO] budget), a mass comparable to the tonnages of some of the world’s largest HFSE resources. We argue that fenite can yield crucial information about the tipping points in magma evolution because retention and/or loss of volatile-bonded alkali and HFSEs are key factors in the development of magmatic zirconosilicate-hosted HFSE ores (e.g., Kringlerne, at Ilímaussaq), or the formation of the syenite-hosted Nb-Ta-REE (Motzfeldt-type) roof-zone deposits.
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Olivine in komatiite records origin and travel from the deep upper mantle
Allan Wilson; Robert Bolhar
Abstract: The deep upper mantle is the main source of high-temperature magmatism, but the only known naturally occurring samples of high-pressure mantle constituents are mineral inclusions in diamonds. Trace elements in olivine crystals from the 3.33 Ga Commondale Greenstone Belt in South Africa reveal that these crystals formed in the deep upper mantle as high-pressure phenocrysts, and some perhaps even formed in the mantle transition zone (410–600 km) where they began as wadsleyite. The crystals were entrained within ascending komatiite magma and conveyed to the surface. The olivine crystals have the highest contents of Al2O3 (0.3 wt%) recorded in any terrestrial olivine, which is indicative of formation at high pressure. The deep mantle gave rise to Archean komatiites, extraordinarily hot magmas (up to 1700 °C), which provide insight into Earth’s early mantle evolution and the formation of most ancient continental and oceanic crust. In spite of extensive research since their discovery over 50 years ago, the origins of komatiites have remained contentious. Plumes—thermochemical instabilities originating at the core-mantle boundary—are the most likely source, but no direct evidence of a deep mantle origin of komatiite has yet been recognized.
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Could the Réunion plume have thinned the Indian craton?
Jyotirmoy Paul; Attreyee Ghosh
Abstract: Thick and highly viscous roots are the key to cratonic survival. Nevertheless, cratonic roots can be destroyed under certain geological scenarios. Eruption of mantle plumes underneath cratons can reduce root viscosity and thus make them more prone to deformation by mantle convection. It has been proposed that the Indian craton could have been thinned due to eruption of the Réunion plume underneath it at ca. 65 Ma. In this study, we constructed spherical time-dependent forward mantle convection models to investigate whether the Réunion plume eruption could have reduced the Indian craton thickness. Along with testing the effect of different strengths of craton and its surrounding asthenosphere, we examined the effect of temperature-dependent viscosity on craton deformation. Our results show that the plume-induced thermomechanical erosion could have reduced the Indian craton thickness by as much as ~130 km in the presence of temperature-dependent viscosity. We also find that the plume material could have lubricated the lithosphere-asthenosphere boundary region beneath the Indian plate. This could be a potential reason for acceleration of the Indian plate since 65 Ma.
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Contemporary and future dust sources and emission fluxes from gypsum- and quartz-dominated eolian systems, New Mexico and Texas, USA
Mark R. Sweeney; Steven L. Forman; Eric V. McDonald
Abstract: Recent research on dust emissions from eolian dunes seeks to improve regional and global emissions estimates and knowledge of dust sources, particularly with a changing climate. Dust emissions from dune fields can be more accurately estimated when considering the whole eolian system composed of active to stabilized dunes, interdunes, sand sheets, and playas. Each landform can emit different concentrations of dust depending on the supply of silt and clay, soil surface characteristics, and the degree to which the landforms are dynamic and interact. We used the Portable In Situ Wind Erosion Laboratory (PI-SWERL) to measure PM10 (particulate matter <10 μm) dust emission potential from landforms in two end-member eolian systems: the White Sands dune field in New Mexico (USA), composed of gypsum, and the Monahans dune field in west Texas, composed of quartz. White Sands is a hotspot of dust emissions where dunes and the adjacent playa yield high dust fluxes up to 8.3 mg/m2/s. In contrast, the active Monahans dunes contain 100% sand and produce low dust fluxes up to 0.5 mg/m2/s, whereas adjacent stabilized sand sheets and dunes that contain silt and clay could produce up to 17.7 mg/m2/s if reactivated by climate change or anthropogenic disturbance. These findings have implications for present and future dust emission potential of eolian systems from the Great Plains to the southwestern United States, with unrealized emissions of >300 t/km2/yr.
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Appearance and disappearance rates of Phanerozoic marine animal paleocommunities
A.D. Muscente; Rowan C. Martindale; Anirudh Prabhu; Xiaogang Ma; Peter Fox ...
Abstract: Ecological observations and paleontological data show that communities of organisms recur in space and time. Various observations suggest that communities largely disappear in extinction events and appear during radiations. This hypothesis, however, has not been tested on a large scale due to a lack of methods for analyzing fossil data, identifying communities, and quantifying their turnover. We demonstrate an approach for quantifying turnover of communities over the Phanerozoic Eon. Using network analysis of fossil occurrence data, we provide the first estimates of appearance and disappearance rates for marine animal paleocommunities in the 100 stages of the Phanerozoic record. Our analysis of 124,605 fossil collections (representing 25,749 living and extinct marine animal genera) shows that paleocommunity disappearance and appearance rates are generally highest in mass extinctions and recovery intervals, respectively, with rates three times greater than background levels. Although taxonomic change is, in general, a fair predictor of ecologic reorganization, the variance is high, and ecologic and taxonomic changes were episodically decoupled at times in the past. Extinction rate, therefore, is an imperfect proxy for ecologic change. The paleocommunity turnover rates suggest that efforts to assess the ecological consequences of the present-day biodiversity crisis should focus on the selectivity of extinctions and changes in the prevalence of biological interactions.
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Possible shock-induced crystallization of skeletal quartz from supercritical SiO2-H2O fluid: A case study of impact melt from Kamil impact crater, Egypt
Agnese Fazio; Luigi Folco; Falko Langenhorst
Abstract: Since its discovery, the Kamil crater (Egypt) has been considered a natural laboratory for studying small-scale impact cratering. We report on a previously unknown shock-related phenomenon observed in impact melt masses from Kamil; that is, the shock-triggered formation of skeletal quartz aggregates from silica-rich fluids. These aggregates are unshocked and characterized by crystallographically oriented lamellar voids and rounded vesicles. The distribution of the aggregates can be correlated with former H2O- and impurity-rich heterogeneities in precursor quartz; i.e., fluid inclusions. The heterogeneities acted as hot spots for local melting. Due to the presence of H2O and the high impact pressure and temperature, the formation of a localized supercritical fluid is plausible. Below the upper critical end point of the SiO2–H2O system (temperature <1100 °C and pressure <1 GPa), SiO2 melt and H2O fluid become immiscible, leading to the rapid and complete crystallization of skeletal quartz.
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Monthly insolation linked to the time-transgressive nature of the Holocene East Asian monsoon precipitation maximum
Xin Zhou; Tao Zhan; Luyao Tu; John P. Smol; Shiwei Jiang ...
Abstract: More than 10% of the world’s population lives in the East Asian monsoon (EAM) region, where precipitation patterns are critical to agricultural and industrial activities. However, the dominant forcing mechanisms driving spatiotemporal changes in the EAM remain unclear. We selected Holocene records tracking monsoon precipitation in the EAM region reconstructed from pollen data to explore the spatiotemporal patterns of monsoon precipitation changes. Our analysis shows a time-transgressive pattern of maximum precipitation, with earlier occurrence in the southern area and later occurrence in the northern area. The monthly insolation changes force monsoon precipitation in different parts of the EAM region through a shift in the Western Pacific Subtropical High. We conclude that low-latitude monthly insolation changes (rather than average summer insolation changes) were the main forcing mechanisms of the spatiotemporal patterns of the monsoon precipitation maximum during the Holocene.
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Preferential dissolution of uranium-rich zircon can bias the hafnium isotope compositions of granites
Peng Gao; Chris Yakymchuk; Jian Zhang; Changqing Yin; Jiahui Qian ...
Abstract: Hafnium (Hf) isotopes in zircon are important tracers of granite petrogenesis and continental crust evolution. However, zircon in granites generally shows large Hf isotope variations, and the reasons for this are debated. We applied U-Pb geochronology, trace-element, and Hf isotope analyses of zircon from the Miocene Himalayan granites to address this issue. Autocrystic zircon had εHf values (at 20 Ma) of –12.0 to –4.3 (median = –9). Inherited zircon yielded εHf values (at 20 Ma) of –34.8 to +0.3 (median = –13); the majority of εHf values were lower than those of autocrystic zircon. The εHf values of inherited zircon with high U concentrations resembled those of autocrystic zircon. Geochemical data indicates that the granites were generated during relatively low-temperature (<800 °C) partial melting of metasedimentary rocks, which, coupled with kinetic hindrance, may have led to the preferential dissolution of high-U zircon that could dissolve more efficiently into anatectic melt due to higher amounts of radiation damage. Consequently, Hf values of autocrystic zircon can be biased toward the values of U-rich zircon in the source. By contrast, literature data indicate that granites generated at high temperatures (<820–850 °C) generally contain autocrystic and inherited zircons with comparable Hf isotope values. During higher-temperature melting, indiscriminate dissolution of source zircon until saturation is reached will result in near-complete inheritance of Hf isotope ratios from the source. Our results impose an extra layer of complexity to interpretation of the zircon Hf isotope archive that is not currently considered.
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