Abstract

The Belt–Purcell Supergroup, northern Idaho, western Montana, and southern British Columbia, is a thick succession of Mesoproterozoic sedimentary rocks with an age range of about 1470–1400 Ma. Stratigraphic layers within several sedimentary units were sampled to apply the new technique of U–Pb dating of xenotime that sometimes forms as rims on detrital zircon during burial diagenesis; xenotime also can form epitaxial overgrowths on zircon during hydrothermal and metamorphic events. Belt Supergroup units sampled are the Prichard and Revett Formations in the lower Belt, and the McNamara and Garnet Range Formations and Pilcher Quartzite in the upper Belt. Additionally, all samples that yielded xenotime were also processed for detrital zircon to provide maximum age constraints for the time of deposition and information about provenances; the sample of Prichard Formation yielded monazite that was also analyzed. Ten xenotime overgrowths from the Prichard Formation yielded a U–Pb age of 1458 ± 4 Ma. However, because scanning electron microscope – backscattered electrons (SEM–BSE) imagery suggests complications due to possible analysis of multiple age zones, we prefer a slightly older age of 1462 ± 6 Ma derived from the three oldest samples, within error of a previous U–Pb zircon age on the syn-sedimentary Plains sill. We interpret the Prichard xenotime as diagenetic in origin. Monazite from the Prichard Formation, originally thought to be detrital, yielded Cretaceous metamorphic ages. Xenotime from the McNamara and Garnet Range Formations and Pilcher Quartzite formed at about 1160–1050 Ma, several hundred million years after deposition, and probably also experienced Early Cretaceous growth. These xenotime overgrowths are interpreted as metamorphic–diagenetic in origin (i.e., derived during greenschist facies metamorphism elsewhere in the basin, but deposited in sub-greenschist facies rocks). Several xenotime grains are older detrital grains of igneous derivation. A previous study on the Revett Formation at the Spar Lake Ag–Cu deposit provides data for xenotime overgrowths in several ore zones formed by hydrothermal processes; herein, those results are compared with data from newly analyzed diagenetic, metamorphic, and magmatic xenotime overgrowths. The origin of a xenotime overgrowth is reflected in its rare-earth element (REE) pattern. Detrital (i.e., igneous) xenotime has a large negative Eu anomaly and is heavy rare-earth element (HREE)-enriched (similar to REE in igneous zircon). Diagenetic xenotime has a small negative Eu anomaly and flat HREE (Tb to Lu). Hydrothermal xenotime is depleted in light rare-earth element (LREE), has a small negative Eu anomaly, and decreasing HREE. Metamorphic xenotime is very LREE-depleted, has a very small negative Eu anomaly, and is strongly depleted in HREE (from Gd to Lu). Because these characteristics seem to be process related, they may be useful for interpretation of xenotime of unknown origin. The occurrence of 1.16–1.05 Ga metamorphic xenotime, in the apparent absence of pervasive deformation structures, suggests that the heating may be related to poorly understood regional heating due to broad regional underplating of mafic magma. These results may be additional evidence (together with published ages from metamorphic titanite, zircon, monazite, and garnet) for an enigmatic, Grenville-age metamorphic event that is more widely recognized in the southwestern and eastern United States.

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