News Release

New articles for Geosphere posted online in April

Peer-Reviewed Publication

Geological Society of America

Boulder, Colo., USA: GSA’s dynamic online journal, Geosphere, posts articles online regularly. Locations for research include Lago di Cignana, Italy; the western North China craton; the Kaikōura coast, New Zealand; and the Hayes Range, Alaska, USA. You can find these articles at .

Lithium in garnet as a tracer of subduction zone metamorphic reactions: The record in ultrahigh-pressure metapelites at Lago di Cignana, Italy
Gray E. Bebout; Tsutomu Ota; Takuya Kunihiro; William D. Carlson; Eizo Nakamura
Abstract: Lithium is of great interest as a tracer of meta-morphic reactions and related fluid-mineral interactions because of its potential to isotopically fractionate during inter- and intracrystalline diffusional processes. Study of its transfer through subduction zones, based on study of arc volcanic and metamorphic rocks, can yield insight regarding ocean-to-mantle chemical cycling. We investigated major- and trace-element concentrations and δ 7Li in garnet in ultrahigh-pressure (UHP) Lago di Cignana metasedimentary rocks, relating these observations to reconstructed prograde devolatilization history. In all garnet crystals we studied, heavy rare earth elements (HREEs), Y, and Li showed strong zoning, with elevated concentrations in cores (15–50 ppm Li) and marked high-concentration anomalies (up to 117 ppm Li, 5500 ppm Y; little or no major-element shift) as growth annuli, in which some crystals showed subtle elevation in δ 7Li greater than analytical error of ~3‰ (2σ). Rutile inclusions appeared abruptly at annuli and outward toward rims, accompanied by inclusions of a highly zoned, Ca- and rare earth element–rich phase and decreased Nb concentrations in garnet. These relationships are interpreted to reflect prograde garnet-forming reaction(s), in part involving titanite breakdown to stabilize rutile, which resulted in delivery of more abundant Y and HREEs at surfaces of growing garnet crystals to produce annuli. Co-enrichments in Li and Y + REEs are attributed to mutual incorporation via charge-coupled substitutions; thus, increased Li uptake was a passive consequence of elevated concentrations of Y + REEs. The small-scale fluctuations in δ7Li (overall range of ~9‰) observed in some crystals may correlate with abrupt shifts in major- and trace-element concentrations, suggesting that changes in reactant phases exerted some control on the evolution of δ7Li. For one garnet crystal, late-stage growth following partial resorption produced deviation in major- and trace-element compositions, including Li concentration, accompanied by a 10‰–15‰ negative shift in δ7Li, perhaps reflecting a change in the mechanism of incorporation or source of Li. These results highlight the value of measuring the major- and trace-element and isotope compositions of garnets in high-pressure and UHP metamorphic rocks in which matrix mineral assemblages are extensively overprinted by recrystallization during exhumation histories. Lithium concentrations and isotope compositions of the garnets can add valuable information regarding prograde (and retrograde) reaction history, kinetics of porphyroblast growth, intracrystalline diffusion, and fluid-rock interactions. This work, integrated with previous study of devolatilization in the Schistes Lustrés/Cignana metasedimentary suite, indicates retention of a large fraction of the initially subducted sedimentary Li budget to depths approaching those beneath volcanic fronts, despite the redistribution of this Li among mineral phases during complex mineral reaction histories.
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Paleoproterozoic–Paleozoic tectonic evolution of the Longshou Shan, western North China craton
Chen Wu; Jie Li; Andrew V. Zuza; Peter J. Haproff; An Yin ...
Abstract: The Longshou Shan of western China is the northern backstop of the Cenozoic Himalayan-Tibetan orogen and occupies a key linkage between the Tarim continent and North China craton which separate the pre-Cenozoic Tethyan orogenic system and Central Asian orogenic system. Therefore, the Paleoproterozoic–Paleozoic evolution of this region is critical to understanding the extent of overprinting Cenozoic deformation, construction of the Eurasian continent, and relationships between the pre-Cenozoic Tethyan orogenic system and Central Asian orogenic system. Here we present detailed field observations and results of geochronological and major and trace element and Sr-Nd isotope geochemical analyses of samples from the Longshou Shan to decipher its complex Paleoproterozoic–Paleozoic tectonic history. Our results show that the Paleoproterozoic basement rocks of the Longshou Shan were part of the North China craton and involved in Paleoproterozoic northern North China orogeny. A ca. 965 Ma granitoid in the Longshou Shan provides key evidence for a spatial linkage between northern Tibetan continents, the North Tarim continent, and the North China craton in the early Neoproterozoic. The presence of Early Ordovician granitoids and arc volcanic rocks in the Longshou Shan suggest that bivergent subduction of Qilian oceanic lithosphere occurred during the early Paleozoic. Crustal shortening and thickening during Ordovician–Carboniferous orogenesis are evidenced by the presence of several unconformities in the Longshou Shan. Late Carboniferous arc granites exposed in the study area are likely associated with the southward subduction of the Paleo-Asian Ocean to the north and with Permian siliciclastic strata sourced from a proximal arc-subduction system, based on detrital zircon ages. Although the tectonic history of the Long- shou Shan can be traced back to Neoproterozoic time, most of the recorded deformation and uplift of the region occurred during the early Paleozoic Qilian orogeny and late Paleozoic Central Asian orogeny. Furthermore, we interpret that the several orogenic events recorded in the Longshou Shan (i.e., northern North China, Qilian, and Central Asian orogenies) are spatially and temporally correlative along strike with those recorded in the Tarim and North China cratons.
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Groundwater silcrete linked to brine migration in a continental rift: An alternative to the near-surface model of silcrete
David G. Lowe; E. DeSantis; R.W.C. Arnott; J. Conliffe
Abstract: Silcretes have long been recognized as modern and ancient duricrusts, but more recently also as silicified layers precipitated at groundwater tables, termed groundwater silcrete. However, the silica sources, transport mechanisms, and precipitation processes of groundwater silcrete are not well understood, and models are limited to the near-surface groundwater environment, where silica saturation is low. Here, an example of a groundwater silcrete from Upper Cambrian strata of the Potsdam Group is described and interpreted to be formed in a rift where Cambrian fault reactivation coincided with silcrete formation. Field relationships strongly support a connection between fault activity and silicification, including a systematic thickening and development of massive silcrete horizons above shear zones, brecciated silcrete near where faults intersect shear zones, and nodules along the margins of shear zones. Petrographic and cathodoluminescence microscopy of silcrete reveal early pre-compaction overgrowth cements with abundant primary fluid inclusions. Fluid inclusion microthermometry indicates that these fluids were high salinity (22.7–25.8 eq. wt% NaCl+CaCl2) brines with homogenization temperatures of ~120.2 °C–151.6 °C, which implies that silica precipitated from a hot, silica-saturated crustal brine from Grenville Province basement. A combination of weathering reactions and direct quartz dissolution explains the chemical evolution of the source fluid, which likely originated as infiltrated meteoric water that had chemically equilibrated with Grenville crust at depth. Later, this brine was mobilized upward along reactivated faults during the Late Cambrian, and ultimately to the water table, where a combination of reduced pH and temperature promoted quartz supersaturation and quartz overgrowths on detrital quartz. This case example, therefore, expands the definition of silcrete to include near-surface silicification from externally sourced crustal fluids, here termed brine silcrete, and provides a basis for interpreting silcrete as a feature of deformation and fluid migration along shear zones in fault-bounded continental basins.
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Late Holocene coseismic uplift of the Kaikōura coast, New Zealand
Andy Howell; Kate J. Clark
Abstract: The complex 2016 MW 7.8 Kaikōura earthquake ruptured >20 faults and caused highly variable uplift and subsidence of an ~110 km stretch of coastline. The earthquake raised questions about fault interactions in regions of oblique convergence and especially subduction to strike-slip transition zones like the Kaikōura region. We integrate 2016 coastal vertical deformation observations with new mapping and dating of Holocene marine terraces to: (1) compare spatial patterns of 2016 coseismic and longer-term vertical motions, (2) investigate possible past multi-fault ruptures or temporal clusters of earthquakes around Kaikōura, and (3) assess the relative contributions of crustal faults and the Hikurangi subduction interface to late Holocene coastal uplift. We identify possible multi-fault ruptures or loose clusters of earthquakes at ca. 850–550 yr B.P. and ca. 350–100 yr B.P. Most (and possibly all) of the Kaikōura coast has been uplifted over the late Holocene; the 25-km-long Parikawa section of coast subsided coseismically in 2016 but appears to be uplifted through reverse slip on an offshore fault. Late Holocene uplift everywhere along the coastline of interest can be attributed to slip on known upper-plate faults; slip on a shallow-dipping (<20°) subduction interface cannot be ruled out but is not required to explain uplift.
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Large-scale, crustal-block vertical extrusion between the Hines Creek and Denali faults coeval with slip localization on the Denali fault since ca. 45 Ma, Hayes Range, Alaska, USA
Jeff A. Benowitz; Sarah M. Roeske; Sean P. Regan; Trevor S. Waldien; Julie L. Elliott ...
Abstract: Oblique convergence along strike-slip faults can lead to both distributed and localized deformation. How focused transpressive deformation is both localized and maintained along sub-vertical wrench structures to create high topography and deep exhumation warrants further investigation. The high peak region of the Hayes Range, central Alaska, USA, is bound by two lithospheric scale vertical faults: the Denali fault to the south and Hines Creek fault to the north. The high topography area has peaks over 4000 m and locally has experienced more than 14 km of Neogene exhumation, yet the mountain range is located on the convex side of the Denali fault Mount Hayes restraining bend, where slip partitioning alone cannot account for this zone of extreme exhumation. Through the application of U-Pb zircon, 40Ar/39Ar (hornblende, muscovite, biotite, and K-feldspar), apatite fission-track, and (U-Th)/He geo-thermochronology, we test whether these two parallel, reactivated suture zone structures are working in tandem to vertically extrude the Between the Hines Creek and Denali faults block on the convex side of the Mount Hayes restraining bend. We document that since at least 45 Ma, the Denali fault has been bent and localized in a narrow fault zone (<160 m) with a significant dip-slip component, the Mount Hayes restraining bend has been fixed to the north side of the Denali fault, and that the Between the Hines Creek and Denali faults block has been undergoing vertical extrusion as a relatively coherent block along the displacement “free faces” of two lithospheric scale suture zone faults. A bent Denali fault by ca. 45 Ma supports the long-standing Alaska orocline hypothesis that has Alaska bent by ca. 44 Ma. Southern Alaska is currently converging at ~4 mm/yr to the north against the Denali fault and driving vertical extrusion of the Between the Hines Creek and Denali faults block and deformation north of the Hines Creek fault. We apply insights ascertained from the Between the Hines Creek and Denali faults block to another region in southern Alaska, the Fairweather Range, where extreme topography and persistent exhumation is also located between two sub-parallel faults, and propose that this region has likely undergone vertical extrusion along the free faces of those faults.
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GEOSPHERE articles are available at . Representatives of the media may obtain complimentary copies of GEOSPHERE articles by contacting Kea Giles at the address above. Please discuss articles of interest with the authors before publishing stories on their work, and please refer to GEOSPHERE in articles published. Non-media requests for articles may be directed to GSA Sales and Service,

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