Abstract

An ash-rich volcaniclastic sandstone immediately underlying dinosaur-rich material from the Danek Bonebed in the Horseshoe Canyon Formation (HCF), Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, contains accessory zircon, which have been dated employing U–Pb geochronology. Both laser-ablation inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (LA-ICP-MS) and chemical abrasion isotope dilution thermal ionization mass spectrometry (ID-TIMS) U–Pb analyses have been conducted. The zircon age distributions are complex with U–Pb dates ranging from Precambrian to Cretaceous. We consider the youngest ID-TIMS 206Pb/238U date of 71.923 ± 0.068 Ma as the maximum deposition age of the ash-rich sandstone, placing the overlying Danek bonebed in the early Maastrichtian. This age is compatible with the paleontological assemblage from the Danek Bonebed and the regional stratigraphy. The zircon age distribution also implies that the HCF had a complex provenance of the detritus with some Archean and Proterozoic zircons, a group of Mesozoic, and a large compliment of Cretaceous grains. The results highlight the importance of high precision geochronology in constraining the age of important fossil deposits such as the Danek Bonebed.

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