News Release

New GSA Bulletin articles published ahead of print in June

Peer-Reviewed Publication

Geological Society of America

Boulder, Colo., USA: The Geological Society of America regularly publishes articles online ahead of print. GSA Bulletin topics studied this month include the nature and dynamics of China and Tibet; hawaiites in the Cima volcanic field, California; and the dynamic floor of Yellowstone Lake. You can find these articles at .

Crustal growth/reworking and stabilization of the western Superior Province: Insights from a Neoarchean gneiss complex of the Winnipeg River terrane
Chong Ma; Jeffrey Marsh; Robert W.D. Lodge; Ross Sherlock
Abstract: Long-term stability of the continental lithosphere is attained through a cumulative increase in net buoyancy and rigidity due to progressive compositional differentiation (i.e., cratonization). As stable cratons provided the nucleus for the subsequent accretionary growth and tectono-magmatic reworking that produced modern continental crust, the geodynamic processes that facilitated the stabilization of cratons are critical for understanding the evolution of Earth’s lithosphere. This study uses a portion of the Winnipeg River terrane, one of the oldest terranes of the western Superior Province, as a natural laboratory to investigate Archean crustal growth (partial melting of mantle) and reworking (partial melting of crust) and provides insights into the geodynamic processes driving mantle depletion and crustal remelting. Zircon U-Pb data obtained by laser ablation−inductively coupled plasma−mass spectrometry (LA-ICP-MS) from an extensive Winnipeg River terrane gneiss complex reveal six major magmatic events at ca. 3060 Ma, 2930‒2920 Ma, ca. 2910 Ma, 2830‒2800 Ma, 2735‒2730 Ma, and ca. 2700 Ma and regional metamorphism at ca. 2900 Ma. Whole-rock geochemistry and zircon Lu-Hf and trace element data indicate that (1) the magmatism at ca. 3060 Ma and ca. 2930‒2920 Ma represents reworking of the isotopically evolved components of the incipient Winnipeg River terrane at shallow depths, (2) the ca. 2910 Ma magmatism features a step-change of Hf isotopic compositions from subchondritic to suprachondritic and records the formation of new juvenile magmas and the first reworking of existing juvenile crust, and (3) the magmatism after ca. 2830 Ma largely reflects reworking of the juvenile components of the incipient Winnipeg River terrane at medium to shallow depths prior to the ca. 2700 Ma trans-crustal magmatism associated with the convergence of the Winnipeg River terrane and western Wabigoon terrane. Juvenile magmatism and crustal growth in the Winnipeg River terrane at ca. 2910 Ma are inferred to correspond with significant mantle depletion below the Winnipeg River terrane, which led to a more stable lithospheric mantle in this part of the western Superior Province. Zircon trace element data support a mantle upwelling model rather than lithosphere recycling models for the depletion of mantle at ca. 2910 Ma. This study suggests that crustal growth and mantle depletion bracketed by prolonged, episodic crustal reworking may be a fundamental characteristic of the cratonization process.
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The 180-km-long Meers-Willow Fault System in the Southern Oklahoma Aulacogen: A potential U.S. mid-continent seismic hazard
Brandon F. Chase; Folarin Kolawole; Estella A. Atekwana; Brett M. Carpenter; Molly Turko ...
Abstract: We integrate new high-resolution aeromagnetic data with seismic reflection data, well logs, satellite remote sensing, and field observations to provide a regional view of buried and exposed structures in the Southern Oklahoma Aulacogen and to assess their potential for future seismicity. Trends ranging from NW−SE to ∼E−W, peaking at 330° ± 4.5° and 280° ± 3°, dominate the magnetic lineaments of the Southern Oklahoma Aulacogen, reflecting basement contacts, dikes, and faults, including a previously unmapped ∼100-km-long basement fault, which is herein referred to as the Willow fault. The fault disrupts, truncates, and vertically offsets basement-related seismic reflectors and overlying Paleozoic strata up through the Permian reflectors. Surface deformation along the trend includes fault-parallel monoclinal folds, pervasive fractures, and fracture-hosted mud dikes in Permian evaporite units. These structures indicate a Permian or post-Permian reactivation of the fault. Along-strike, the Willow fault connects to the NW-trending, seismically active Meers Fault to comprise the ∼180-km-long Meers-Willow fault system, which potentially represents a major seismic hazard along the Southern Oklahoma Aulacogen. Fault slip potential analyses of the mapped potential fault traces show that seismic hazards are elevated where faults have steeper dips. Given some uncertainty in the regional stress state, we also show that hazards along the NW−SE to E−W trending faults vary considerably within the uncertainty range. We propose that the Meers-Willow fault system originated as a Cambrian aulacogen-scale, basement-rooted fault that was later reactivated as a left-lateral strike-slip fault (with ∼40 km displacement) during the late Paleozoic Ancestral Rocky Mountain orogeny, highlighting that lateral offset accommodated a major component of deformation during the orogen.
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Time-constrained multiphase brittle tectonic evolution of the onshore mid-Norwegian passive margin
Giulia Tartaglia; Alberto Ceccato; Thomas Scheiber; Roelant van der Lelij; Jasmin Schönenberger ...
Abstract: The mid-Norwegian passive margin is a multiphase rifted margin that developed since the Devonian. Its geometry is affected by the long-lived activity of the Møre-Trøndelag fault complex, an ENE-WSW−oriented regional tectonic structure. We propose a time-constrained evolutionary scheme for the brittle history of the mid-Norwegian passive margin. By means of remote-sensing lineament detection, field work, microstructural analysis, paleostress inversion, mineralogical characterization, and K-Ar dating of fault rocks, six tectonic events have been identified: (1) Paleozoic NE-SW compression forming WNW-ESE−striking thrust faults; (2) Paleozoic NW-SE transpression forming conjugate strike-slip faults; (3) Carboniferous protorifting forming NW-SE− and NE-SW−striking faults; (4) Late Triassic−Jurassic (ca. 202 and 177 Ma) E-W extension forming approximately N-S−striking epidote- and quartz-coated normal faults and widespread alteration; (5) renewed rifting in the Early Cretaceous (ca. 122 Ma) with a NW-SE extension direction; and (6) Late Cretaceous extensional pulses (ca. 71, 80, 86, 91 Ma ago) reactivating preexisting faults and crystallizing prehnite and zeolite. Our multidisciplinary and multiscalar study sheds light onto the structural evolution of the mid-Norwegian passive margin and confirms the active role of the Møre-Trøndelag fault complex during the rifting stages. Our 62 new radiometric K-Ar ages define discrete episodes of faulting along the margin. The proposed workflow may assist in the interpretation of the structural framework of the mid-Norwegian passive margin offshore domain and also help to better understand fault patterns of fractured passive margins elsewhere.
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Origin of low Mg# hawaiites carrying peridotite xenoliths from the Cima volcanic field, California, USA: Evidence of rapid magma mixing during ascent along intersecting fractures
Sarah K. Brehm; Rebecca A. Lange
Abstract: The Cima volcanic field, in the southern Basin and Range province (California, USA), includes >70 eruptive units over the last 8 m.y. The youngest (≤1 Ma) are low Mg# (≥56) hawaiites derived from an asthenospheric mantle source. The Cima hawaiites, and adjacent Dish Hill basanites, are known for carrying large mantle xenoliths, which precludes stalling in a crustal reservoir. This raises the question of how low Mg# hawaiites, which cannot be in equilibrium with peridotite mantle, formed and differentiated while carrying dense, mantle xenoliths. Several hypotheses are evaluated and the only one shown to be viable is mixing between high-MgO basanite (with entrained mantle xenoliths and sparse olivine phenocrysts) and low-MgO mugearite liquids, which formed by partial melting of mafic lower crust under relatively dry and reducing conditions. Multiple lines of evidence, including the presence of mantle xenoliths in hawaiites, diffusion-limited growth textures in olivine and clinopyroxene, and notably thin Fe-rich rims on high-MgO olivine crystals (inherited), indicate magma mixing must have occurred rapidly (days or less) during ascent to the surface along intersecting fractures, and not in a stalled crustal reservoir. Abundant evidence points to clinopyroxene growth immediately after mixing, and application of clinopyroxene-melt barometry constrains the depth of mixing to the lower and middle crust (0.8−0.4 GPa). Results from olivine-melt thermometry/hygrometry (∼1196 °C and ∼1.4 wt% H 2O) applied to a basanite from Dish Hill carrying 5−20 cm mantle xenoliths leads to calculated ascent velocities ≥0.3−4.9 km/h, enabling ascent through the 36 km thick crust in ≤7−119 h.
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New age and lake chemistry constraints on the Aptian pre-salt carbonates of the central South Atlantic
M. Lawson; J. Sitgreaves; T. Rasbury; K. Wooton; W. Esch ...
Abstract: The Cretaceous lacustrine carbonates of the offshore Brazilian and West African pre-salt basins represent some of the most extensive non-marine carbonates discovered in the geologic record. Despite being intensively studied over the past decade, the age of these carbonates and the overlying regional salt sequences is highly controversial. Similarly, the conditions under which these carbonates were deposited remains poorly understood. Here, we provide the first integrated geochronology-thermometry study of these carbonates to develop an improved understanding of when and under what conditions they formed. We utilize carbonate clumped isotope and 87Sr/86Sr geochemistry alongside traditional petrographic techniques to identify samples minimally altered from burial diagenesis that may yield reliable age and lake chemistry constraints. Carbonate clumped isotope apparent temperatures for the studied carbonates range from 36 ºC to 91 °C, which we infer to represent a range in sample preservation from minimally altered depositional temperatures through to those that have been overprinted by burial diagenesis. 87Sr /86Sr values of our samples are consistent with those of previous studies for Cretaceous pre-salt carbonates that have not experienced significant alteration from hydrothermal fluids. Through this approach, we measured the first high resolution isotope dilution U-Pb age constraint of 115.83 ± 1.56 Ma (2σ) on a well preserved carbonate. Combined with overlapping lower resolution laser ablation U-Pb ages for time-equivalent stratigraphy on two separate carbonate platforms of 114.46 ± 4.72 Ma and 109.73 ± 9.26 Ma, these ages provide the first robust direct age calibration for pre-salt carbonates deposited on either side of the South Atlantic during the final stages of the break-up of Gondwana in the Early Cretaceous. These ages also provide the first calibration for a combined 87Sr/86Sr-facies-log based relative age framework within the Santos Basin, offshore Brazil. We further utilize δ 18O constraints on samples that yield depositional clumped isotope apparent temperatures to constrain the δ18O of the water in these ancient lakes to between 1.9 and 4.9‰ Vienna standard mean ocean water. Such heavy values reveal a picture of a hot and arid environment. This is consistent with prior biostratigraphic studies of the carbonates that show a decrease in faunal diversity in these lakes prior to marine ingress and the development of open marine conditions in the South Atlantic Ocean.
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A one-million-year isotope record from siderites formed in modern ferruginous sediments
Aurèle Vuillemin; Christoph Mayr; Jan A. Schuessler; André Friese; Kohen W. Bauer ...
Abstract: Ancient iron formations hold important records of environmental conditions during the Precambrian eons. Reconstructions of past oceanic systems require investigation of modern ferruginous analogs to disentangle water column and diagenetic signals recorded in iron-bearing minerals. We analyzed oxygen, iron, and carbon isotopes in siderite, a ferrous carbonate phase commonly used as an environmental proxy, from a 100-m-long record spanning a 1 Ma depositional history in ferruginous Lake Towuti, Indonesia. Combining bulk sediment and pore water geochemistry, we traced processes controlling siderite isotope signatures. We show that siderite oxygen isotope compositions (δ18O) reflect in-lake hydrological and depositional conditions. Low iron isotope values (δ56Fe) record water column oxygenation events over geological timescales, with minor diagenetic partitioning of Fe isotopes by microbial iron reduction after deposition. The carbon isotope compositions (δ13C) reflect the incorporation of biogenic HCO3, which is consistent with sediment organic matter remineralization lasting over ca. 200 ka after burial. Positive δ13C excursions indicate an increased production of biogenic methane that escaped the sediment during low lake levels. Diffusion across the sediment−water interface during initial formation of siderites tends to align the isotope signatures of bottom waters to those of pore waters. As microbial reduction of ferric iron and oxidation of organic matter proceed and saturate pore water conditions with respect to siderite, overgrowth on nuclei partially mutes the environmental signal inherited from past bottom waters over ca. 1 Ma. Because high depositional fluxes of ferric iron and organic matter in early oceans would have promoted similar microbial processes in ferruginous deposits prior to lithification, the environmental record contained in siderite grains can successively integrate depositional and early diagenetic signals over short geological timescales.
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The dynamic floor of Yellowstone Lake, Wyoming, USA: The last 14 k.y. of hydrothermal explosions, venting, doming, and faulting
L.A. Morgan; W.C.P. Shanks; K.L. Pierce; N. Iverson; C.M. Schiller ...
Abstract: This doubtless mere fragment of an ancient inland sea, or great lake, of perhaps hot or tepid water, surrounded and dotted by active volcanoes, has been so long, and yet so imperfectly known, and in trapper legends has been presented in so many different localities, shapes, dimensions, elevations, etc., that it appropriately merits its designation of “Mystic Lake.” It has, however, been found to be one of the largest, most elevated, and peculiarly formed of all the mountain lakes of North America, and yet is comparatively so little known as to offer a most inviting field for romantic and interesting exploration. Superintendent Philetus W. Norris, Annual Report of the Superintendent of the Yellowstone National Park, 1881, p. 11, (Norris, 1881). Hydrothermal explosions are significant potential hazards in Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, USA. The northern Yellowstone Lake area hosts the three largest hydrothermal explosion craters known on Earth empowered by the highest heat flow values in Yellowstone and active seismicity and deformation. Geological and geochemical studies of eighteen sublacustrine cores provide the first detailed synthesis of the age, sedimentary facies, and origin of multiple hydrothermal explosion deposits. New tephrochronology and radiocarbon results provide a four-dimensional view of recent geologic activity since recession at ca. 15−14.5 ka of the >1-km-thick Pinedale ice sheet. The sedimentary record in Yellowstone Lake contains multiple hydrothermal explosion deposits ranging in age from ca. 13 ka to ∼1860 CE. Hydrothermal explosions require a sudden drop in pressure resulting in rapid expansion of high-temperature fluids causing fragmentation, ejection, and crater formation; explosions may be initiated by seismicity, faulting, deformation, or rapid lake-level changes. Fallout and transport of ejecta produces distinct facies of subaqueous hydrothermal explosion deposits. Yellowstone hydrothermal systems are characterized by alkaline-Cl and/or vapor-dominated fluids that, respectively, produce alteration dominated by silica-smectite-chlorite or by kaolinite. Alkaline-Cl liquids flash to steam during hydrothermal explosions, producing much more energetic events than simple vapor expansion in vapor-dominated systems. Two enormous explosion events in Yellowstone Lake were triggered quite differently: Elliott’s Crater explosion resulted from a major seismic event (8 ka) that ruptured an impervious hydrothermal dome, whereas the Mary Bay explosion (13 ka) was triggered by a sudden drop in lake level stimulated by a seismic event, tsunami, and outlet channel erosion.
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Mechanism of crustal thickening and exhumation of southern Lhasa terrane during the Late Cretaceous: Evidence from high-pressure metamorphic rocks of the Eastern Himalayan Syntaxis
Yanling Zhang; Changqing Yin; Donald W. Davis; Shun Li; Jiahui Qian ...
Abstract: The mechanism of Late Cretaceous crustal thickening and exhumation of the southern Lhasa terrane is critical for understanding the tectonic evolution of the Tibetan Plateau. High-pressure metamorphic rocks from the lower crust are good candidates for addressing this issue. In this study, we focus on Late Cretaceous, high-pressure, garnet-bearing amphibolites from the Nyingchi Complex of the Eastern Himalayan Syntaxis and present an integrated study of geochronology, petrography, mineral chemistry, and thermodynamic modeling. Petrographic data determine three metamorphic stages (M1−M3). The M1 stage is characterized by a peak mineral assemblage of garnet + hornblende + albite + rutile + muscovite + quartz, which is followed by a post-peak (M 2) assemblage of garnet + hornblende + plagioclase + epidote + biotite + rutile + quartz. The late retrograde stage (M3) is defined by hornblende + plagioclase symplectites surrounding garnet porphyroblasts. Mineral chemistry, with thermodynamic modeling, constrains the P-T conditions of the M1−M3 stages to 14−19 kbar/660−720 °C, 8−10 kbar/650−660 °C, and <7 kbar/<600 °C, respectively. Metamorphic zircons yield a concordant age at 90 Ma, which indicates the formation of garnet-bearing amphibolites. These results indicate a P-T-t path involving near-isothermal decompression for garnet-bearing amphibolites, which suggests that the Nyingchi Complex underwent peak-pressure metamorphism (M1) at 90 Ma, followed by rapid exhumation to the depth of 32−26 km along the subduction channel. Moreover, the garnet-bearing amphibolites are considered to be the product of high-pressure metamorphism of mafic crust at the base of the Gangdese belt. Hence, the crust of the Gangdese belt experienced significant crustal thickening of up to 60 km at 90 Ma.
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Unusual δ26Mg values in oceanic crust basalts from the South China Sea
Renqiang Liao; Hongli Zhu; Lipeng Zhang; He Li; Congying Li ...
Abstract: Whether or not oceanic crust basalts are affected by plate subduction is a hot topic of debate. The South China Sea is one of the largest marginal basins in the western Pacific Ocean and has been surrounded by subduction of the Pacific plate and Indian plate, yet, to date, no study has clearly shown evidence of subduction in the geochemistry of volcanism in the basin due to a lack of sampling of igneous crust basalts on the seafloor. The International Ocean Discovery Program Expedition 349 cored seafloor basalts near the fossil spreading ridges of the eastern (Site U1431) and southwestern (Site U1433 and U1434) subbasins in the South China Sea. The recovered basalt samples indicated a pyroxenite-bearing peridotite mantle source. Here, we report Mg isotopic data from 14 of these oceanic crust basalt samples. The δ26Mg values of most basalts from the three drill holes were higher (up to −0.10‰) than that of the average mantle (−0.25‰). The lack of correlations of δ26Mg with geochemical indices of magmatic processes (e.g., MgO, CaO/Al2O3, La/Sm, Nb/Zr) suggests that crystal fractionation and partial melting had insignificant effects on the Mg isotopic compositions of the South China Sea basalts. Thus, the variations in Mg isotopes were inherited from their mantle sources. Considering the highly varied Ce/Pb ratios and elevated87Sr/86Sr values but mantle-like 143Nd/ 144Nd values, we propose that the varied δ26Mg values were likely caused by metasomatism of subduction-released fluids. The coupling of Mg and Sr-Fe isotopes provides robust evidence that the high-δ 26Mg values of the South China Sea basalts resulted from mixing among pyroxenite-bearing peridotite mantle, the nearby Hainan plume materials, and subducting serpentinite-released fluids. Therefore, these Mg isotopes suggest that the mantle source of the South China Sea basalts was influenced by subducted materials, providing further evidence of the initial expansion, formation, and evolution of the South China Sea during plate subduction.
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