News Release

New Geology articles published online ahead of print in May

Peer-Reviewed Publication

Geological Society of America

Boulder, Colo., USA: Article topics and locations include the Southern Rocky Mountain volcanic field; a tropically hot mid-Cretaceous North American Western Interior Seaway; a newly discovered subglacial lake in East Antarctica; 830-million-year-old microorganisms in primary fluid inclusions in halite; horseshoe crab–like mating in trilobites; mayflies in the Jurassic; and an explosive volcanic origin identified for dark sand in Aeolis Dorsa, Mars. These Geology articles are online at .

Protogenetic clinopyroxene inclusions in diamond and Nd diffusion modeling—Implications for diamond dating
L. Pasqualetto; F. Nestola; D.E. Jacob; M.G. Pamato; B. Oliveira ...
Abstract: Diamonds are witnesses of processes that have operated in Earth’s mantle over more than 3 b.y. Essential to our understanding of these processes is the determination of diamond crystallization ages. These cannot be directly determined on diamond, but they can be calculated using radiogenic isotopic systematics of suitable minerals included in a diamond. This method relies on the assumption that the mineral inclusions were in isotopic equilibrium with the diamond-forming medium. We evaluated the validity of Sm-Nd ages yielded by clinopyroxene inclusions by combining crystallographic orientation analyses and Nd diffusion modeling at the relevant conditions for Earth’s cratonic mantle. We investigated the crystallographic orientation relationships (CORs) for 54 clinopyroxene inclusions within 18 diamonds from South Africa and Siberia. Clinopyroxene inclusions in some diamonds showed specific CORs with their hosts, indicating possible syngenesis. Other samples had clusters of clinopyroxene inclusions sharing the same orientation but no specific orientation relative to their hosts, indicating that the inclusions are older than the diamond (i.e., they are protogenetic). Diffusion modeling in the temperature range typical for lithospheric diamonds (900–1400 °C) showed that resetting of the Sm-Nd isotopic system in clinopyroxene grains larger than 0.05 mm requires geologically long interaction with the diamond-forming fluid/melt (>3.5 m.y. at average temperature of ~1150 °C). Depending on inclusion size and temperature regime, protogenetic clinopyroxene inclusions may not fully reequilibrate during diamond-formation events. We suggest that small clinopyroxene inclusions (<0.2 mm) that equilibrated at temperatures higher than 1050–1080 °C may be the most suitable for age determinations.
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The role of flat slab subduction, ridge subduction, and tectonic inheritance in Andean deformation
Brian K. Horton; Tomas N. Capaldi; Nicholas D. Perez
Abstract: Convergent plate boundaries show sharp variations in orogenic width and extent of intraplate deformation. Analysis of late Cenozoic contractile deformation along the Andean mountain front and adjacent foreland highlights the contrasting degrees of deformation advance toward the plate interior. The retroarc positions of the Andean topographic front (marked by frontal thrust-belt structures) and foreland deformation front (defined by isolated basement block uplifts) range from 300 to 900 km inboard of the trench axis. Over the ~8000 km arcuate length of the Andes (10°N to 55°S), four discrete maxima of inboard deformation advance are spatially co-located with the Peruvian (5°S–14°S) and Pampean (27°S–33°S) zones of flat slab subduction, the subducted Chile Ridge (45°S–48°S), and the anomalously thick Paleozoic stratigraphic wedge of Bolivia (17°S–23°S). The spatial correspondence of retroarc shortening with specific geodynamic configurations demonstrates the mechanical role of flat slab subduction, slab window development, and combined structural and stratigraphic geometries in shaping the orogenic architecture of Cordilleran margins, largely through lithospheric strengthening, weakening, and/or tectonic inheritance.
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Triple oxygen isotope evidence for a hot Archean ocean
J.P. McGunnigle; E.J. Cano; Z.D. Sharp; K. Muehlenbachs; D. Cole ...
Abstract: Triple oxygen isotope (δ17O and δ18O) values of high- and low-temperature altered oceanic crust and products of basalt alteration experiments were measured to better constrain ocean isotope compositions in deep time. The data define an array of δ18O and Δ′17O (Δ′17O=δ′17O – λRL × δ′18O + γ) values from mantle values toward 1‰ and –0.01‰, respectively, with a λ of ~0.523. The altered oceanic crust data were used to construct a model for estimating δ18O-Δ′17O values of the ancient oceans if the continental weathering flux (FCW) and/or hydrothermal oceanic crust alteration flux (FHT) changed through time. A maximum lowering of 7‰ and 4‰, respectively, is achieved in the most extreme cases. The δ18 O value of the ocean cannot be raised by more than 1.1‰. Eclogites from the Roberts Victor kimberlite (South Africa), with a protolith age of 3.1 Ga, have δ18O-Δ′17O values that precisely overlap with those of the modern altered oceanic crust, suggesting that the Archean oceans had similar isotope values as today. Published triple isotope data for Archean cherts show that all samples have been altered to some degree and suggest an Archean ocean surface temperature of ~70–100 °C. An ocean as light as –2‰ is still consistent with our eclogite data and reduce our temperature estimates by 10 °C.
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Zircon-modeled melts shed light on the formation of Earth’s crust from the Hadean to the Archean
T.L. Carley; E.A. Bell; C.F. Miller; L.L. Claiborne; A. Hunt ...
Abstract: Elucidating the compositions of melts from which Hadean zircons crystallized can provide insight into early crust construction. We calculated model melts using Ti-calibrated zircon/melt partition coefficients and trace element data for zircons from the Hadean, Archean, and possible analogue environments (e.g., rifts, hotspots, arcs) to constrain petrogenetic relationships. Model melts from oceanic settings (mid-ocean ridges, arcs, Iceland) showed higher heavy rare earth element (HREE) contents and shallower middle REE (MREE) to HREE/chondrite (ch) slopes than those from continental arcs and tonalite-trondhjemite-granodiorite suites (TTGs). However, Hadean and Archean model melts were consistently similar to each other and to those from continental arcs, hotspots, and TTGs (and dissimilar to oceanic settings), with depleted HREE contents and slope reversal in heaviest REE ch. Despite close similarities that suggest comparable petrogenesis of Hadean and early Archean magmas from which Jack Hills detrital zircons crystallized, subtle variabilities in REEch and Zr/Hf suggest thickening crust and evolving igneous systems through time.
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Deep-focus earthquakes: From high-temperature experiments to cold slabs
Julien Gasc; Clémence Daigre; Arefeh Moarefvand; Damien Deldicque; Julien Fauconnier ...
Abstract: Deep-focus earthquakes (DFEs) present an interesting scientific challenge in that they occur at depths where brittle failure should be impossible. The fact that their occurrence is confined to locations where subducting lithospheric slabs are crossing through the transition zone suggests that olivine phase transformations may be involved in the production of these earthquakes. Experimental studies have shown that olivine can persist metastably in subducting slabs and that olivine phase transformations can lead to faulting at high pressures. However, it has been argued that large DFEs are too large to be contained within a metastable olivine wedge preserved in the interior of subducting slabs. We demonstrate, using experiments on olivine-analog materials, that transformational faulting can continue to propagate via shear-enhanced melting into the stable high-pressure phase. We also show that transformational faulting is controlled by the ratio between strain rates and the olivine-ringwoodite transformation rates, and extrapolate this relationship to the natural conditions of DFEs. Counterintuitively, these results imply that cold and fast-subducting slabs produce transformational faulting at higher temperatures, which results in more numerous DFEs.
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Neodymium isotopes of central Mediterranean phosphatic hardgrounds reveal Miocene paleoceanography
Irene Cornacchia; Marco Brandano; Samuele Agostini; Axel Munnecke
Abstract: Understanding the causes of the formation of hardgrounds provides insights on the oceanographic evolution of a basin. Phosphate-rich hardground formation interrupted carbonate ramp deposition in the Mediterranean during the Miocene. We analyzed the εNd record of three central Mediterranean hardgrounds to identify the origin of the phosphate-rich waters that formed them within the frame of Mediterranean Miocene paleoceanographic evolution. The Nd isotopes suggest that eastern Mediterranean deep waters were controlled by runoff, in contrast to Atlantic and Indian Ocean waters. This Nd isotope record attests to the weakening of Mediterranean circulation during the Miocene due to closure of the Indian Gateway. Limited exchange with Atlantic shallow seawater led to long residence times for deep waters in the basin. This record indicates the role of upwelling in formation of phosphate hardgrounds and shows the influence of global climate change and local paleoceanographic conditions.
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Mercury isotopic composition of igneous rocks from an accretionary orogen: Implications for lithospheric recycling
Changzhou Deng; Jun Gou; Deyou Sun; Guangyi Sun; Zhendong Tian ...
Abstract: Mercury (Hg) provides critical information on terrestrial planet formation and evolution due to its unique physicochemical properties and multiform isotopic compositions. Current knowledge of Hg is mainly limited to Earth’s surface environments, and the understanding of Hg in the Earth’s interior remains unclear. Accretionary orogens are major settings for continental crustal growth and crust-mantle interactions. We studied the Hg concentration and isotopic composition of igneous rocks in the eastern Central Asian orogenic belt, using Hg as a proxy to trace the recycling of surface materials in Earth’s lithosphere. Our results show low Hg abundances in mafic through felsic igneous rocks (4.93 ± 4.35 ppb, standard deviation [SD], n = 267). Mafic rocks show slightly lower δ 202Hg (–2.9‰ ± 0.5‰, SD, n = 24) than intermediate (–2.4‰ ± 0.8‰, SD, n = 58) and felsic (–1.5‰ ± 0.8‰, SD, n = 185) rocks, indicating a chemical stratification of Hg isotopic composition in the continental crust with isotopically lighter Hg in the lower part and heavier Hg in the upper part. Slightly positive Δ 199Hg values are observed in mantle-derived mafic (0.07‰ ± 0.06‰, SD) and intermediate (0.06‰ ± 0.07‰, SD) rocks, which agree well with those reported for marine sediments, indicating the involvement of fluids or melts from the oceanic crust. Larger variations of Δ199Hg values (–0.26‰ to +0.21‰, average: 0.01‰ ± 0.08‰, SD, n = 185) are observed in felsic rocks, further indicating recycling of surface Hg from the marine reservoir via slab subduction (reflected by positive values) plus magmatic assimilation of terrestrial Hg (reflected by negative values). Our study demonstrates that Hg isotopes can be a promising tracer for the chemical dynamics of Earth’s lithosphere.
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Gouge fabrics reset by thermal pressurization record stress on faults after earthquakes
Li-Wei Kuo; Hiroki Sone; Vladimir Luzin; En-Chao Yeh; Ya-Ju Hsu ...
Abstract: Stress on seismogenic faults provides critical information about how much elastic energy is stored in the crust and released by earthquakes, which is crucial in understanding earthquake energetics and recurrence. However, determining post-earthquake stress states on faults remains challenging because current borehole methods are rarely applicable to damaged fault zone rocks. We applied neutron texture analysis to gouge samples of the 1999 Chi-Chi earthquake in Taiwan to infer the stress state after the earthquake. Results indicate that the clay fabric within the principal slip zone is orthogonal to the fault plane, whereas outside the principal slip zone the fabric is predominantly parallel to the bedding-parallel fault plane. We suggest that the clay fabric in the slip zone was first neutralized by the coseismic fluidization caused by thermal pressurization and later re-oriented to the new direction of post-earthquake principal stress. Such stress orientation is consistent with the orientations inferred from core-scale fault slip data and dislocation models constrained from global navigation satellite system displacements. If thermal pressurization is a ubiquitous process during earthquakes, gouge fabrics can be used to help probe the post-earthquake stress state of faults.
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Mayflies as resource pulses in Jurassic lacustrine ecosystems
Qianqi Zhang; Bo Wang; Daran Zheng; Jiahao Li; Xueheng Wang ...
Abstract: Resource pulses, occasional events of ephemeral resource superabundance, represent a fundamental mechanism by which energy, nutrients, and biomass are transported across ecotones. They are widespread in extant ecosystems; however, little is known about their deep-time record. We report the earliest-known mayfly swarm from the Early Jurassic Xiwan biota of southern China. Our taphonomic and sedimentological analyses show that these mayflies were buried on the bottom of a calm lake after post-mating death. Our suite of analyses suggests that the complex mating-swarm behavior was already well established in mayflies by the Early Jurassic. More importantly, our find represents the earliest-known resource pulse of insects, a mechanism that can play a substantial role in nutrient transport from aquatic ecosystems to surrounding terrestrial ecosystems. Such an aquatic-terrestrial ecosystem linkage may be a key novelty in Mesozoic lacustrine ecosystems. Our results highlight the underappreciated ecological significance of insects in deep-time terrestrial ecology.
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Explosive-effusive-explosive: The role of magma ascent rates and paths in modulating caldera eruptions
Olivier Bernard; Weiran Li; Fidel Costa; Steve Saunders; Ima Itikarai ...
Abstract: One of the biggest challenges in volcanology is assessing the role of magma properties (volatile budgets, storage depths, and ascent rates) in controlling eruption explosivity. We use a new approach based on apatite to estimate volatile contents and magma ascent rates from a sequence of sub-Plinian, effusive, and Vulcanian eruption deposits at Rabaul caldera (Papua New Guinea) emplaced in 2006 CE to probe the mechanisms responsible for the sudden transitions in eruption styles. Our findings show that all magmas were originally stored at similar conditions (2–4 km depth and 1.8–2.5 wt% H2O in the melt); only the magma that formed the lava flow stalled and degassed at a shallower level (0.2–1.5 km) for several months. A more energetic batch of magma rose from depth, bypassed the transient reservoir, and ascended within ≤8 h to Earth’s surface (mean velocity ≥0.2 m/s), yielding the initial sub-Plinian phase of the eruption. The shallowly degassed magma was then able to reach the surface as a lava flow, likely through the path opened by the sub-Plinian magma. The magma of the last Vulcanian phase ascended without storage at a shallow depth, albeit more slowly (ascent rate 0.03–0.1 m/s) than the sub-Plinian magma. Our study illustrates how the complexity of plumbing systems may affect eruption styles, including at other volcanic systems, and have implications for interpreting volcano monitoring data.
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Ringwoodite and zirconia inclusions indicate downward travel of super-deep diamonds
Sofia Lorenzon; Davide Novella; Paolo Nimis; Steven D. Jacobsen; Emilie Thomassot ...
Abstract: Natural diamonds and their inclusions provide unique glimpses of mantle processes from as deep as ~800 km and dating back to 3.5 G.y. Once formed, diamonds are commonly interpreted to travel upward, either slowly within mantle upwellings or rapidly within explosive, carbonate-rich magmas erupting at the surface. Although global tectonics induce subduction of material from shallow depths into the deep mantle, mineralogical evidence for downward movements of diamonds has never been reported. We report the finding of an unusual composite inclusion consisting of ringwoodite (the second finding to date), tetragonal zirconia, and coesite within an alluvial super-deep diamond from the Central African Republic. We interpret zirconia + coesite and ringwoodite as prograde transformation products after zircon or reidite (ZrSiO4) and olivine or wadsleyite, respectively. This inclusion assemblage can be explained if the diamond traveled downward after entrapping olivine/wadsleyite + zircon/reidite, dragged down by a subducting slab, before being delivered to the surface. This indicates that the commonly assumed view that diamonds form at, and capture material from, a specific mantle level and then travel upward is probably too simplistic.
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U-Pb dating reveals multiple Paleoproterozoic orogenic events (Hamersley orogenic cycle) along the southern Pilbara margin (Australia) spanning the onset of atmospheric oxygenation
Birger Rasmussen; Jian-wei Zi; Janet Muhling
Abstract: The early Paleoproterozoic was a time of unprecedented change in Earth’s climate and surface environment. The key to resolving some of the controversies surrounding the timing and causes of these changes lies with supracrustal sequences, such as the 2.45–2.22 Ga Turee Creek Group in the southern Pilbara craton, northwestern Australia. The group preserves a predominantly siliciclastic sequence; however, its precise age, tectonic setting, and postdepositional history are disputed. Although it is interpreted to have been deposited in a foreland basin setting shortly after 2.45 Ga, the oldest well-recognized deformational event, marked by northward folding and thrusting, is the 2.20–2.15 Ga Ophthalmia orogeny. Evidence for a pre-Ophthalmia fabric-forming tectonic event north of the Archean Sylvania Inlier, southeast Pilbara craton, which is marked by tight to isoclinal folding, has been largely overlooked. In this area, we report in situ U-Pb geochronology of authigenic monazite and xenotime in shale with a well-developed tectonic cleavage from the ca. 2.63 Ga Jeerinah Formation. Monazite porphyroblasts, which are locally wrapped by strain fringes aligned in a tectonic cleavage, yielded weighted mean 207Pb/206Pb ages at 2370 ± 11 Ma and 2312 ± 8 Ma, whereas xenotime, which overprints a crenulation cleavage, gave a weighted mean 207Pb/206Pb age of 2291 ± 11 Ma, constraining fabric development to between 2.31 Ga and 2.29 Ga. Our results confirm the existence of a pre-Ophthalmia deformational event in the southeastern Pilbara craton, herein referred to as the Sylvania orogeny, which is part of an ~300 m.y. interval (2.45–2.15 Ga) of northward-directed compression (“Hamersley orogenic cycle”). This orogenic cycle is marked by east-west and northwest-southeast folding, cleavage development, veining, hydrothermal gold mineralization, and isotopic resetting across the southern Pilbara craton. Our results indicate that the syn–Great Oxidation Event Turee Creek Group was deposited in one or more foreland basins after 2.45 Ga. Our results provide a new tectonostratigraphic and geodynamic framework for understanding the timing and origin of geochemical records in a key succession deposited during an interval of global environmental change.
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Permeability of subducted oceanic crust revealed by eclogite-facies vugs
Samuel Angiboust; Tom Raimondo
Abstract: We report the finding of rare eclogite-facies vugs forming millimeter- to centimeter-sized pockets in meta-ophiolites from the western European Alps. Euhedral garnet crystals covering the vug walls display oscillatory chemical zoning for a wide range of major and trace elements, including Cr, Mn, and rare earth elements. Thermodynamic modeling revealed that closed-system fluid production through the breakdown of prograde glaucophane, lawsonite, and chlorite between 505 °C and 525 °C can successfully explain porosity creation of ~4% and the mineralogical properties of the vugs. Available geologic and geochronologic constraints indicate that the eclogitization of the downgoing mafic crust spanned a window of at least 1 m.y. These observations can only be explained by the presence of extremely low permeability values (<10–22 m 2) to keep the fluid confined at the meter scale within vugs on such time scales. Our field-based report of eclogite porosity provides the first in situ confirmation of previous experimental data and geophysical estimates on active margins. A substantial amount of fluid trapped in this porosity may be carried deeper than expected into Earth’s mantle, with implications for volatile recycling budgets.
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Recurrent tectonic activity in northeastern Brazil during Pangea breakup: Constraints from U-Pb carbonate dating
Carlos E. Ganade; Caue R. Cioffi; João Pacífico Machado; Tiago Miranda; Leonardo B. Lopes ...
Abstract: Carbonate U-Pb dating of samples from rift-bounding faults of intracontinental basins in the Borborema province, northeastern Brazil, indicate recurrent tectonic activity during Pangea breakup lasting for >150 m.y. from the Late Triassic to the Paleocene, reactivating inherited strike-slip Neoproterozoic–Cambrian shear zones. Triassic ages indicate that brittle deformation started some 80 m.y. before previously known, most likely related to rifting along the incipient Central Atlantic. The subsequent Cretaceous opening of the South Atlantic caused renewed fault activity during rifting and basin development. Furthermore, recurrent Cenozoic tectonic activity along the rift-bounding faults is indicated, suggesting that structural inheritance of the Neoproterozoic–Cambrian continental-scale Borborema shear zone system has been responsible for accommodation of recurrent tectonic stress from Mesozoic rifting to the present day.
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Seismic evidence for lithospheric boudinage and its implications for continental rifting
Luan C. Nguyen; Alan Levander; Fenglin Niu; Julia Morgan; Guoliang Li
Abstract: The continental rifting that precedes the breakup of a continent and the formation of a new ocean basin is one of the key processes of plate tectonics. Although often viewed as a two-dimensional process, rifted margins exhibit significant variations along strike. We document along-strike variations developed during the ca. 200–160 Ma continental rifting that formed the margins of the Gulf of Mexico ocean basin. Rayleigh-wave ambient noise tomography reveals a zone of high and low seismic velocity resembling large-scale geologic boudins in the mantle lithosphere of the northwestern Gulf of Mexico margin. These features become progressively less prominent eastward following the transition from a magma-poor to a magma-rich passive margin. We infer that mantle refertilization and thickness of the pre-rift lithosphere control deformation style and the along-strike variations in continental rifting. Our results also suggest that deformation during rifting produces long-lived features that persist long after breakup and, therefore, can be used to study rifted margins globally.
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Accumulation of windblown sand in impact craters on Mars
Andrew Gunn; Lior Rubanenko; Mathieu G.A. Lapôtre
Abstract: Loose sand, blown away from source regions by winds, is transported across Mars’s surface into sand sheets and dunes and accumulates within topographic sinks. In the absence of plate tectonics, impact craters constitute a dominant sink for windblown sediments on Mars today. We analyzed the volume of all mapped eolian sands in martian craters >1 km in diameter to reveal spatiotemporal patterns of sediment accumulation on the planet’s surface. We combined our results with global climate simulations, maps of depth to the ice table and dust cover, as well as lithologic and age information of the underlying geologic units, to better understand the controls on intracrater sand accumulation rates. We find that crater age, latitude, and lithology influence the accumulation rate of windblown sand and, notably, that it is enhanced in mechanically weaker substrates, high-latitude craters (suggesting that modern cryogenic processes may enhance sand production), and in Late Noachian and Early Hesperian craters (possibly hinting at increased erosion rates at that time).
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Multiple phyla, one time resolution? Similar time averaging in benthic foraminifera, mollusk, echinoid, crustacean, and otolith fossil assemblages
Rafał Nawrot; Michaela Berensmeier; Ivo Gallmetzer; Alexandra Haselmair; Adam Tomašových ...
Abstract: Time averaging of fossil assemblages determines temporal precision of paleoecological and geochronological inferences. Taxonomic differences in intrinsic skeletal durability are expected to produce temporal mismatch between co-occurring species, but the importance of this effect is difficult to assess due to lack of direct estimates of time averaging for many higher taxa. Moreover, burial below the taphonomic active zone and early diagenetic processes may alleviate taxonomic differences in disintegration rates in subsurface sediments. We compared time averaging across five phyla of major carbonate producers co-occurring in a sediment core from the northern Adriatic Sea shelf. We dated individual bivalve shells, foraminiferal tests, tests and isolated plates of irregular and regular echinoids, crab claws, and fish otoliths. In spite of different skeletal architecture, mineralogy, and life habit, all taxa showed very similar time averaging varying from ~1800 to ~3600 yr (interquartile age ranges). Thus, remains of echinoids and crustaceans—two groups with multi-elemental skeletons assumed to have low preservation potential—can still undergo extensive age mixing comparable to that of the co-occurring mollusk shells. The median ages of taxa differed by as much as ~3700 yr, reflecting species-specific timing of seafloor colonization during the Holocene transgression. Our results are congruent with sequestration models invoking taphonomic processes that minimize durability differences among taxa. These processes together with temporal variability in skeletal production can overrule the effects of durability in determining temporal resolution of multi-taxic fossil assemblages.
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Early incubation and prolonged maturation of large ignimbrite magma bodies: Evidence from the Southern Rocky Mountain volcanic field, Colorado, USA
Peter W. Lipman; Matthew J. Zimmerer; Amy K. Gilmer
Abstract: Clusters of early central volcanoes in the mid-Cenozoic Southern Rocky Mountain volcanic field (SRMVF; southwestern Colorado, USA) record sites of initial magmatic focusing that led to assembly of sizable upper-crustal magma bodies capable of generating large ignimbrites. Peak growth at precursor andesitic volcanoes was followed by extended periods (0.5 to >2 m.y.) of reduced eruptive activity during inferred prolonged incubation of the crustal reservoir prior to eruption of ignimbrites at the San Juan magmatic locus, as exemplified by the 5000 km3 Fish Canyon Tuff and associated La Garita caldera. After a magma system became thermally mature and compositionally evolved, additional large ignimbrites could erupt more rapidly from polycyclic calderas. In contrast, incubation times for smaller ignimbrite magmas, as at Crater Lake, Oregon, were briefer than for San Juan systems. Plutonic counterparts to the temporal-compositional assembly of arc-ignimbrite magmas are exemplified by incrementally emplaced granitoid intrusions like the Mesozoic Tuolumne complex in the Sierra Nevada.
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A tropically hot mid-Cretaceous North American Western Interior Seaway
Matthew M. Jones; Sierra V. Petersen; Allison N. Curley
Abstract: The mid-Cretaceous thermal maximum (KTM) during Cenomanian to Santonian times from ca. 100 to 83 Ma is considered among Earth’s warmest sustained intervals of the Phanerozoic. The time interval is also characterized by major paleoceanographic changes in the form of an oceanic anoxic event and the flooding of epicontinental seaways, such as the Western Interior Seaway in North America. We report carbonate clumped isotope (Δ47) paleotemperatures (TΔ47) of the KTM measured from Cenomanian oyster fossils of the Western Interior Seaway. Following screening of specimens for carbonate diagenesis and exclusion of geographic zones with evidence consistent with solid-state Δ47 reordering, a mean TΔ47 of 28–34 °C (95% confidence interval for the standard error of mean) for primary oyster calcite quantifies extreme mid-latitude warmth in North America. When combined with existing Campanian and Maastrichtian marine TΔ47 records, the new data constrain Late Cretaceous temperature trends underlying the evolution of North American faunal and stratigraphic records. These T Δ47 data from the peak KTM highlight the potential of this proxy to quantitatively resolve the upper thermal limits of Phanerozoic greenhouse climates.
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The influence of glacial isostatic adjustment on continental shelf stratigraphic correlation
Meghan E. King; Jessica R. Creveling
Abstract: Glacial isostatic adjustment (GIA) imparts geographic variability in the amplitude and timing of local sea-level (LSL) change arising from glacial-interglacial oscillations relative to a global mean signal (eustasy). We modeled how GIA manifests in the stratigraphic record across four shelf-perpendicular transects moving progressively more distal to the Quaternary North American ice complex, subject to varying amounts of GIA during glacial-interglacial cycles. Along each transect, we obtained LSL histories for nine sites between 1 m and 250 m water depth from the output of a gravitationally self-consistent GIA model run from marine oxygen isotope stage (MIS) 11 to the present. We paired each site’s unique LSL history with 50 identical annual sedimentation models to create a library of 400-k.y.-duration synthetic stratigraphic columns (each assuming no tectonics). Comparison of the suite of synthetic stratigraphic columns between transects for a given bathymetric depth reveals latitudinal differences in the stratigraphically determined number, magnitude, and age of glacial-interglacial cycles, as inferred from stratigraphic sequence count, apparent water-depth change, and age of preserved deglacial transgression. We conclude that, for many field locales, extraction of primary information about the number, scale, and duration of pre-Cenozoic glacial-interglacial cycles from continental shelf stratigraphic records near ice sheets demands a deconvolution of the GIA signal.
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A newly discovered subglacial lake in East Antarctica likely hosts a valuable sedimentary record of ice and climate change
Shuai Yan; Donald D. Blankenship; Jamin S. Greenbaum; Duncan A. Young; Lin Li ...
Abstract: The Princess Elizabeth Land sector of the East Antarctic Ice Sheet is a significant reservoir of grounded ice and is adjacent to regions that experienced great change during Quaternary glacial cycles and Pliocene warm episodes. The existence of an extensive subglacial water system in Princess Elizabeth Land (to date only inferred from satellite imagery) bears the potential to significantly impact the thermal and kinematic conditions of the overlying ice sheet. We confirm the existence of a major subglacial lake, herein referred to as Lake Snow Eagle (LSE), for the first time using recently acquired aerogeophysical data. We systematically investigated LSE’s geological characteristics and bathymetry from two-dimensional geophysical inversion models. The inversion results suggest that LSE is located along a compressional geologic boundary, which provides reference for future characterization of the geologic and tectonic context of this region. We estimate LSE to be ~42 km in length and 370 km2 in area, making it one of the largest subglacial lakes in Antarctica. Additionally, the airborne ice-penetrating radar observations and geophysical inversions reveal a layer of unconsolidated water-saturated sediment around and at the bottom of LSE, which—given the ultralow rates of sedimentation expected in such environments—may archive valuable records of paleoenvironmental changes and the early history of East Antarctic Ice Sheet evolution in Princess Elizabeth Land.
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Evidence for benthic oxygen production in Neoarchean lacustrine stromatolites
Dylan T. Wilmeth; Stefan V. Lalonde; William M. Berelson; Victoria Petryshyn; Aaron J. Celestian ...
Abstract: The evolution of oxygenic photosynthesis fundamentally altered the global environment, but the history of this metabolism prior to the Great Oxidation Event (GOE) at ca. 2.4 Ga remains unclear. Increasing evidence suggests that non-marine microbial mats served as localized “oxygen oases” for hundreds of millions of years before the GOE, though direct examination of redox proxies in Archean lacustrine microbial deposits remains relatively limited. We report spatially distinct patterns of positive and negative cerium (Ce) anomalies in lacustrine stromatolites from the 2.74 Ga Ventersdorp Supergroup (Hartbeesfontein Basin, South Africa), which indicate that dynamic redox conditions within ancient microbial communities were driven by oxygenic photosynthesis. Petrographic analyses and rare earth element signatures support a primary origin for Ce anomalies in stromatolite oxides. Oxides surrounding former bubbles entrained in mats (preserved as fenestrae) exhibit positive Ce anomalies, while oxides in stromatolite laminae typically contain strong negative Ce anomalies. The spatial patterns of Ce anomalies in Ventersdorp stromatolites are most parsimoniously explained by localized Ce oxidation and scavenging around oxygen bubbles produced by photosynthesis in microbial mats. Our new data from Ventersdorp stromatolites supports the presence of oxygenic photosynthesis ~300 m.y. before the GOE, and add to the growing evidence for early oxygen oases in Archean non-marine deposits.
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Cenozoic delamination of the southwestern Yangtze craton owing to densification during subduction and collision
Jun Wang; Qiang Wang; Chuan-Bing Xu; Wei Dan; Zhuo Xiao ...
Abstract: It is widely thought that oceanic subduction can trigger cratonic keel delamination, but the southwestern Yangtze craton (SYC; southwestern China) lost its lower keel during Cenozoic continental collision. The upper mantle beneath the thinned SYC contains its incompletely delaminated keel, which has high-velocity seismic anomalies. Combining geophysical observations with the geochemistry of Eocene mafic potassic lavas derived from the SYC mantle at different depths, we suggest that the deep (~130 km) delaminated lithosphere was more fertile and dense, with low-forsterite (Fo; molar 100 × Mg/[Mg + Fe] = 91.3) and high-δ18O (5.9‰) olivine, than the shallow (~55 km) intact lithosphere (Fo = 94.2; δ18O = 5.2‰), although both were rehydrated and oxidized. The deep keel underwent strong refertilization and densification owing to the addition of Fe-rich basaltic melts during earlier oceanic subduction. Subduction-driven refertilization and subsequent collision-driven cooling caused cratonic keel delamination due to compositional and thermal densification rather than hydration- or oxidation-induced rheological weakening. Our study provides an example of Cenozoic cratonic keel delamination in a collisional orogen and highlights the key roles of compositional and thermal densification in delamination during subduction and collision.
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Nd isotopic evidence for enhanced mafic weathering leading to Ordovician cooling
Christopher T. Conwell; Matthew R. Saltzman; Cole T. Edwards; Elizabeth M. Griffith; Y. Datu Adiatma
Abstract: It remains unclear whether waning of the volcanic degassing CO2 source or enhancement of the mafic (Ca, Mg-silicate) weathering CO 2 sink, or both, caused global cooling leading to the Ordovician greenhouse–icehouse transition. We present a uniquely age-constrained and integrated Middle–Late Ordovician (470–450 Ma) continental weathering isotopic proxy data set (87Sr/86Sr and ε Nd(t)) from carbonate rocks of the Antelope Range of central Nevada, USA, paired with published paleotemperature proxy measurements (δ 18O) of conodont apatite from the same locality. This suite of proxy records signals an increase in mafic weathering of the Taconic mountains (eastern United States) at ca. 463 Ma, which forced a period of global cooling. We adapt a 87Sr/86Sr and pCO 2 mass balance approach to model CO2 drawdown during the Ordovician, and show that a combined decrease in volcanic degassing and increase in mafic weathering approximately halves pCO2 in agreement with δ18O trends and paleotemperature reconstructions.
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830-million-year-old microorganisms in primary fluid inclusions in halite
Sara I. Schreder-Gomes; Kathleen C. Benison; Jeremiah A. Bernau
Abstract: Primary fluid inclusions in bedded halite from the 830-m.y.-old Browne Formation of central Australia contain organic solids and liquids, as documented with transmitted light and ultraviolet–visible (UV-vis) petrography. These objects are consistent in size, shape, and fluorescent response with cells of prokaryotes and eukaryotes and with organic compounds. This discovery shows that microorganisms from saline depositional environments can remain well preserved in halite for hundreds of millions of years and can be detected in situ with optical methods alone. This study has implications for the search for life in both terrestrial and extraterrestrial chemical sedimentary rocks.
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The problem of paleo-planforms
Sinéad J. Lyster; Alexander C. Whittaker; Elizabeth A. Hajek
Abstract: Reconstructing river planform is crucial to understanding ancient fluvial systems on Earth and other planets. Paleo-planform is typically interpreted from qualitative facies interpretations of fluvial strata, but these can be inconsistent with quantitative approaches. We tested three well-known hydraulic planform predictors in Cretaceous fluvial strata (in Utah, USA) where there is a facies-derived consensus on paleo-planform. However, the results of each predictor are inconsistent with facies interpretations and with each other. We found that one of these predictors is analytically best suited for geologic application but favors single-thread planforms. Given that this predictor was originally tested using just 53 data points from natural rivers, we compiled a new data set of hydraulic geometries in natural rivers (n = 1688), which spanned >550 globally widespread, sand- and gravel-bed rivers from various climate and vegetative regimes. We found that the existing criteria misclassified 65% of multithread rivers in our data set, but modification resulted in a useful predictor. We show that depth/width (H/W) ratio alone is sufficient to discriminate between single-thread (H/W > 0.02) and multithread (H/W < 0.02) rivers, suggesting bank cohesion may be a critical determinant of planform. Further, we show that the slope/Froude (S/Fr) ratio is useful to discriminate process in multithread rivers; i.e., whether generation of new threads is an avulsion-dominated (anastomosing) or bifurcation-dominated (braided) process. Multithread rivers are likely to be anastomosing when S/Fr < 0.003 (shallower slopes) and braided when S/Fr > 0.003 (steeper slopes). Our criteria successfully discriminate planform in modern rivers and our geologic examples, and they offer an effective approach to predict planform in the geologic past on Earth and on other planets.
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Claspers in the mid-Cambrian Olenoides serratus indicate horseshoe crab–like mating in trilobites
Sarah R. Losso; Javier Ortega-Hernández
Abstract: Sexual reproduction represents a fundamental aspect of animal biology, but the diversity of reproductive strategies among early Paleozoic metazoans remains obscure. Direct evidence of reproductive strategies comes from exceptionally preserved egg masses in Cambrian and Ordovician euarthropods such as waptiids and trilobites, but anatomical or behavioral adaptations for mating in these taxa are all but unknown. We demonstrate the presence of functionally specialized appendages in the mid-Cambrian (Wuliuan) Burgess Shale trilobite Olenoides serratus. New material of O. serratus preserves significantly modified and reduced endopodites underneath the seventh thoracic and first pygidial tergites. Comparison with extant euarthropods indicates that these specialized limbs are functional analogs to claspers, which are used by sexually mature males to grasp females prior to or during mating. The claspers in O. serratus were most likely used by the male to hold onto the posterior pygidial spines of the female during amplex, similar to the strategy observed in the horseshoe crab Limulus polyphemus. The new appendicular data from O. serratus provide the first direct evidence for trilobite sexual dimorphism based on the non-biomineralized ventral anatomy. Our findings illuminate the reproductive biology of trilobites and indicate that complex mating behaviors observed in extant euarthropods originated during the Cambrian explosion.
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Late glacial–Holocene record of Southern Hemisphere westerly wind dynamics from the Falkland Islands, South Atlantic Ocean
Alistair Monteath; Paul Hughes; Matthew Cooper; Dulcinea Groff; Rob Scaife ...
Abstract: The Southern Hemisphere westerly wind belt (SHWW) is a major feature of Southern Hemisphere, midlatitude climate that is closely linked with the sequestration and release of CO2 in the Southern Ocean. Past changes in the strength and position of this wind belt are poorly resolved, particularly across the Pleistocene-Holocene transition, a time period associated with fluctuations in atmospheric temperatures and CO2 levels. We used dust geochemistry, particle size measurements, and paleoecological analyses from a peat sequence in the Falkland Islands, South Atlantic Ocean, to describe changes in the SHWW between 16.0 and 6.5 ka (thousands of years before CE 1950). Wind strength was low at ~51°S before and during the Antarctic Cold Reversal (ACR, 14.9–13.0 ka), intensified between 13.1 and 12.1 ka as atmospheric temperatures increased, and then weakened, reaching a minimum between 12.1 and 10.9 ka during the Early Holocene thermal maximum. Northwesterly air masses became more dominant from 12.0 to 10.2 ka, and wind strength remained low until our record was affected by a storm surge or tsunami ca. 7.8 ka. These data indicate a southward shift in the latitude of the SHWW, from north of 51°S prior to and during the ACR, at ~51°S before the onset of the Holocene, and south of 51°S during the early Holocene thermal maximum. This pattern suggests that the latitude of the SHWW was coupled with atmospheric temperatures through the Pleistocene-Holocene transition.
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Extensive evidence for a last interglacial Laurentide outburst (LILO) event
Yuxin Zhou; Jerry McManus
Abstract: A catastrophic last interglacial Laurentide outburst (LILO) event approximately 125,000 years ago (125 ka) may have contributed to abrupt climate change during the last interglacial. It has been proposed that this event was an analog of the Holocene 8.2 ka event. We characterize in detail the (1) provenance, (2) timing, and (3) delivery mechanism of a layer of red sediments deposited across much of the northwestern Atlantic Ocean at 125 ka. Our observations provide strong support for the occurrence of a LILO event that was analogous to the 8.2 ka event in all three aspects, and likely surpassed it in magnitude. The freshwater discharge associated with the 125 ka LILO event may explain a series of abrupt global changes, including a reduction of the North Atlantic Deep Water and reinvigoration of the Antarctic Bottom Water. Our findings suggest that the mechanism that triggered the LILO event may be an integral part of the deglacial sequence of events, during which the final collapse of the contiguous Laurentide Ice Sheet took place 3.5–4 k.y. after full interglacial temperature was reached in the middle and high northern latitudes.
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Diapirism of carbonate platforms subducted into the upper mantle
Mihai N. Ducea; Claire A. Currie; Constantin Balica; Iuliana Lazar; Ananya Mallik ...
Abstract: Subduction of lithospheric plates at convergent margins leads to transport of materials once close to or at the surface of Earth to great depths. Some of them later return to the surface by magmatism or degassing, whereas others end up being stored in the mantle for long periods of time. The fate of carbon-bearing minerals in subduction is of particular interest because they can arbitrate the long-term availability of CO2 at the surface. However, there are major gaps in the understanding of even the most fundamental processes that modulate carbon pathways at mantle depths. We use geodynamic models to understand carbonate pathways upon subduction in the form of large carbonate platforms, which were common in the Tethys realm of Europe. We conducted a series of geodynamic forward models for a 1-km-thick carbonate platform entering subduction. We show that most of the carbonate load detaches from the subducting slab and rises up diapirically through the mantle wedge and eventually mixes with the mantle lithosphere. A smaller fraction gets accreted under the forearc, whereas an even smaller fraction descends deeper into the mantle. The cold diapiric plume has a significant role in retarding silicate mantle melting above these subduction zones and promoting the formation of small-volume carbonate-rich melts and, in some cases, alkaline silica-undersaturated silicate melts. We propose that large amounts of CO2 can be stored as carbonate in the shallow uppermost lithospheric mantle.
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An explosive volcanic origin identified for dark sand in Aeolis Dorsa, Mars
Devon M. Burr; Christina E. Viviano; Timothy I. Michaels; Matthew Chojnacki; Robert E. Jacobsen
Abstract: Dark, windblown (eolian) sand on Mars has produced significant geologic effects throughout Martian history. Although local and regional sand sources have been identified, a primary origin, or genesis, for Martian sand has not been demonstrated. This knowledge gap was recently heightened by the discovery of widespread sand motion, implying breakdown of grains to sub-sand sizes. To address the question of sand genesis, we investigated the source(s) of sand in Aeolis Dorsa (AD), the westernmost Medusae Fossae Formation, using comparisons to sand potentially sourced from multiple regions, each connoting a different sand genesis. Our methods included comparison of (1) AD sand mineralogies with those of possible sand source features, and (2) mapped AD sand deposits and inferred emplacement directions with modeled sand deposit locations and transport pathways. The results point to a time-transgressive unit, interpreted as pyroclastic, as a source of dark sand. High-resolution images of this unit reveal outcrops with dark sand weathering out of lithified bedrock. Given the extent of interpreted pyroclastic deposits on Mars, this sand genesis mechanism is likely widespread today and operated throughout Martian history. Whereas this work identified olivine-rich sand, a range of original pyroclastic lithologies would account for the mineralogic variability of dune fields on Mars. These findings can be tested through analyses of other pyroclastic deposits and potentially by data from the NASA Curiosity rover in nearby Gale crater.
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