Detrital Dating: A Powerful Approach to Resolve Tectonics and Erosion

Title: Detrital Dating: A Powerful Approach to Resolve Tectonics and Erosion
Author: Barbara Carrapa, Dept. of Geosciences, University of Arizona, Tucson
Publication: The Outcrop, November 2010, p. 8-11

INTRODUCTION

The application of geochronological and thermochronological techniques, such as U-Pb, 40Ar/39Ar and fission track, to detrital minerals (i.e. detrital geo- thermo- chronology) such as zircon, white mica, and apatite has revolutionized the field of provenance studies in recent years (e.g. Copeland and Harrison, 1990; Najman et al., 1997; Sobel and Dumitru, 1997; Garver et al., 1999; Von Eynatten et al., 1999; Najman et al., 2005; Carrapa et al., 2004; Coutand et al., 2006; Dickinson and Gehrels, 2010). Whereas when geo- thermochronology is applied to basement rocks within the hinterland (in-situ; Fig. 1) it can provide very detailed information about one specific location, detrital geo- thermochronology provides information about an entire drainage area and possibly orogenic system (Fig. 1).

In particular, detrital geo-thermochronology is able to determine paleodrainage evolution, source unroofing history, geomorphological evolution, and maximum sediment depositional age (e.g. Pazzaglia and Kelley, 1998; Najman et el., 2001; Spiegel et al., 2001; White et al., 2002). Furthermore, lag time trends have been used to interpret different stages of orogenic evolution (e.g. Bernetet al., 2001; Cerrapa etal., 2003, 2009). The main assumptions when applying and interpreting detrital geo-thermochronological data are: i) different sources are characterized by different ages that are recorded in the sedimentary record as different age spectra; and ii) the temperature (T) experienced by the dated minerals after deposition was never higher than the closure T of the utilized thermochronometers (i.e. < ~350oC for white mica 40Ar/39Ar and < ~110oC for apatite fission track; e.g., McDougall and Harrison, 1999; Gallagher, 1998). This implies that the age of the analyzed detrital mineral (detrital age) cannot be younger than the depositional age of the hosting strata and therefore provides a maximum age of deposition (e.g. Najman et al., 2001; DeCelles et al., 2007) (Fig. 1). When instead, burial T exceeds the closure T (or T-window) of the chosen thermochronometer, the ages recorded by the detrital sample provide information on the sedimentary basin thermal history. Although this adds complications, it can be advantageous when trying to resolve complex basin thermal history especially when using fission track in conjunction with vitrinite reflectance (e.g. Kelley and Blackwell, 1990), thermal modeling and (U-Th)/He data (e.g., Farley et al., 1996; Duddy, 1997). Following the same logic, apatite (U-Th)/He thermochronology can be applied to material preserved in deeply buried sedimentary strata that have experienced T high enough to fully reset the system (i.e > ca. 80oC; Farley, 2000). These reset ages may record the timing of erosion of the sedimentary basin after deposition, and can thus be used to resolve the timing of foreland basin deformation (e.g. Bertotti et al., 2005).

A novel approach in detrital geo- thermochronology is the application of multiple dating techniques to the same detrital mineral (e.g. apatite or zircon). Double and triple dating of zircon and apatite provide very useful information on the nature and crystallization age of the source and its erosion history as well as the thermal history of the sedimentary basin (e.g., Carter and Moss, 1999; Reiners et al., 2005; Bernet et al., 2006; Carrapa et al., 2009). This approach has the unique advantage to provide a variety of thermal information about individual mineral grains, removing one level of uncertainty, which is the type of source for different mineral phases. The future of thermochronology and geochronology resides in the routine application of multi-dating techniques to single and multiple mineral phases combined with geochemical analyses (e.g. Morton and Yaxley, 2007; Flowerdew et al., 2007; Morton and Chenery, 2009) that can extract a variety of information from the detrital record and help resolve tectonics-erosion interactions.


References

Bernet, M., Zattin, M., Garvar, J.I., Brandon, M.T., and Vance, J.A., 2001, Steady-state exhumation of European Alps: Geology, v. 29, p. 35-38.

Bernet, M. , Van der Beak, P., Pik, R., Huyghe, P., Mugnier, J.L., Labin, E. , and Szulc, A., 2007. Miocene to Recent exhumation of the central Himalaya determined from combined detrital zircon fission-track and U/Pb analysis of Siwalik sediments, western Nepal: Basin Research: v. 18, p. 393-412.

Bertotti, G., Mosca, P., Juez-Larre, J., Polino, R., and Dunai, T., 2005, Oligocene to Present kilometres scale subsidence and exhumation of the Ligurian Alps and the Tertiary Piedmont Basin (NW Italy) revealed by apatite (U-Th)/He thermochronology: correlation with regional tectonics: Terra Nova, v. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-3121.2005.00655, p. 18-25.

Carrapa, B., Wijbrans, J., and Bertotti, G., 2003, Episodic exhumation in the Western Alps: Geology. v. 31, p. 601-604.

Carrapa, B., DiGulio, A., and Wijbrans. J., 2004, Detecting provenance variations and cooling patterns within the Western Alpine orogen through 40Ar/39Ar geochronology on detrital sediments: the Tertiary Piedmont Basin, NW Italy: GSA Bulletin, Special volume, v. 378, p. 67-103.

Carrapa, B., Sobel, E., and Strecker, M.R., 2006, Cenozoic orogenic growth in the Central Andes: Evidence from rock provenance and apatite fission track thermochronology along the southernmost Puna Plateau margin (NW Argentina): Earth and Planetary Science Letters, v. 247, p. 82-100.

Carrapa, B., 2009, Tracing exhumation and orogenic wedge dynamics in the European Alps with detrital thermochronology: Geology, v. 37, p. 1127-1130.

Carrapa, B., DeCelles, P.G., Reiners, P.W., Gehrels, G.E., and Sudo, M., 2009, Apatite triple dating and white mica 40Ar/39Ar thermochronology of syntectonic detritus in the Central Andes: A multiphase tectonothermal history: Geology, v. 37, p. 1127-1130.

Carter, A. & Moss, S.J. 1999. Combined detrital-zircon fission-track and U-Pb dating: A new approach t0 understanding hinterland evolution, Geology, v. 27, p. 235-238.

Copeland, P., and Harrison, M.T., 1990, Episodic rapid uplift in the Himalaya revealed by 40Ar/39Ar analysis of detrital K-feldspar and muscovite, Bengal fan: Geology, v. 18, p. 354-357.

Coutand, I., Carrapa, B., Deeken, A., Schmitt, A.K., Sobel, E., and Strecker, M.R., 2006, Orogenic plateau formation and lateral growth of compressional basins and ranges: insights from sandstone petrography and detrital apatite fission-track thermochronology in the Angastaco Basin, NW Argentina: Basin Research, v. 18.

DeCelles, PG., Carrapa, B., and Gehrels, G., 2007, Detrital zircon U-Pb ages provide provenance and chronostratigraghic information from Eocene synorogenic deposits in northwestern Argentina: Geology, v. 35, p. 323-326.

Dickinson, W.R., and Gehrels. G. , 2010, Insights into North American Paleogeography and Paleotectonics from U-Pb ages of detrital zircons in Mesozoic strata of the Colorado Plateau, USA: International Journal of Earth Sciences, v. 99, p. 1247-1265.

Duddy, I.R., 1997 , Focusing exploration In the Otway Basin: understanding timing of source rock maturation. Aust. Pet. Explor. Assoc. J. 37 (1997), pp. 178-191.

Farley, K.A., Blythe, A. and Wolf, R.A., 1996. Apatite helium ages: comparison with fission track ages and track-length-derived thermal models. EOS 277 (1996), p. F644.

Farley. K.A. 2000, Helium diffusion from apatite: General behavior as illustrated by Durango fluorapatite. Journal of Geophysical Research, v. 105, p. 2903-2914.

Flowerdew, M. J.. Millar, I.L., Curtis, M.L., Vaughan, A.P.M., Horstwood, M.S.A., Whitehouse, M.J., and Fanning, C.M., 2007. Combined U-Pb geochronology and Hf isotope geochemistry of detrital zircons from early Paleozoic sedimentary rocks, Ellsworth-Whitmore Mountains block, Antarctica: Geological Society of America Bulletin, v. 119, no. 3-4, p. 275-288. doi: 10.1130/B25891.1.

Gallagher, K., Brown, R., and Johnson, C., 1998, Fission track analysis and its applications to geological problems: Annual Review of Earth and Planetary Sciences. v. 26, p. 519-572.

Garver, J.I., Brandon, M.T., Roden, T.M.K., and Kamp, P.J.J., 1999, Exhumation history 0f orogenic highlands determined by detrital fissontrack thermochronology, in Ring, U., et al., eds., Exhumation processes: Normal faulting, ductile flow and erosion: Geological Society of London Journal v. 154, p. 283-304.

Hodges, K.V., Ruhl, K., Wobus, C.W., and Pringle, M.S., 2005, 40Ar,/39Ar Thermochronology of Detrital Minerals, in Reiners, P.W., and Ehlers, T.A., eds., Low-Temperature Thermochronology: Techniques, Interpretations, and Applications, Volume 58, The Mineralogical Society of America, p. 239-257.

McDougall, I., and Harrison, T.M., 1999, Geochronology and Thermochronology by 40Ar/39Ar Method: Oxford, Oxford University press, 269 p.

Morton, A., and Yaxley, G., 2007, Detrital apatite geochemistry and its application to provenance, in Sedimentary Provenance and Petrogenesis: Perspectives from Petrography and Geochemistry, Arribas, J. Critelli S. and Johnsson, M.J. Eds, Geological Society of America, Special Paper 420, 319-344.

Morton, A. and Chenery, S., 2009, Detrital Rutile Geochemistry and Thermometry as Guides to Provenance of Jurassic-Paleocene Sandstones of the Norwegian Sea, Journal of Sedimentary Research, v. 79, no. 7, p. 540-553

Najman, Y.M. R., Pringle, M.S., Johson, M.R.W., Robertson, A.H.F., and Wijbrans, J.R., 1997, Laser 40Ar/39Ar dating of single detrital muscovite grains from early foreland-basin sedimentary deposits in India: Implications for early Himalayan evolution: Geology, v. 25, p. 535-538.

Najman, Y., Pringle, M., Godin, L., and Grahame, O., 2001, Dating of the oldest continental sediments from the Himalayan foreland basin: Nature, v. 410, p. 194-197.

Najman, Y., Carter, A., Grahame, O., and Garzanti, E., 2005, Provenance of Eocene foreland basin sediments, Nepal: Constraints to the timing and diachroneity of early Himalayan orogenesis: Geology, v. 33, p. 309 312.

Pazzaglia, F.J., and Kelley, S.A., 1998, Large-scale geomorphology and fission-track thermochronology in topographic and exhumation reconstructions of the Southern Rocky Mountains: Rocky Mountain Geology, v. 33, p 229-257.

Reiners, P.W., Campbell, I.H., Nicolescu, S., Allen, C.M., Hourigan, J.K., Carver, J.I., Mattinson, J.M., Cowan, D.S. 2005, (U-Th)/(He-Pb) double dating of detrital zircons, American Journal of Scienoe, v. 305, p. 259-311.

Sobel, E., and Dumitru, T.A., 1997, Exhumation of the margins of the western Tarim basin during the Himalayen orogeny: Journal of Geophysical Research, v. 102, p. 5043-5064.

Spiegel, C., Kuhlemann, J., Dunkl, I., and Frisch, W., 2001, Paleogeography and catchment evolution in a mobile orogenic belt: the Central Alps in Oligo-Miocene times: Tectonophysics, v. 341, p. 33-47.

von Eynatten, H. , Schlunegger, E., Gaupp, R., and Wijbrans, J.R., 199g, Exhumation of the Central Alps: Evidence from 40Ar/39Ar laserprobe dating of detrital white micas from the Swiss Molasse Basin: Terra Nova, v. 11, p. 284-289.

Advertisements