Single grains of detrital white mica from two different synorogenic sediments in the Southern Urals were analysed using the in situ ultraviolet laser ablation Ar–Ar dating technique to discriminate between age signatures associated with a high-pressure signal (phengites) from those related to muscovite only. Two disparately aged sandstone formations of Neoproterozoic (Upper Vendian) and Upper Devonian (Famennian) age were formed by the erosion of high-relief source areas with contemporaneously exhumed high-pressure rocks. A bimodal distribution of ages and chemical compositions can be detected in the two detrital populations. There is no age overlap between the two populations, reflecting completely different source areas containing high-pressure rocks of different ages. Within the Upper Vendian sandstones, detrital white mica from a 571–609 Ma age group is phengitic in composition (Si 3.3–3.41 per formula unit), while an older 645–732 Ma age group is comprised of muscovite composition grains only. The first group is compatible with the time of late exhumation and emplacement of a source area containing high-pressure rocks, the Neoproterozoic Beloretzk terrane. The older age range is compatible with a long history of cooling and the allochthonous nature of this terrane. Detrital white mica from the Famennian sandstones (Zilair Formation) comprises one age group (342–421 Ma) containing phengite (Si 3.21–3.39 per formula unit) and muscovite, and a second group (446–496 Ma) containing muscovite only. While the derivation of the second group cannot be correlated with any as yet known regional data, the first age group indicates the earliest arrival of high-pressure rocks at the surface along the suture zone after Late Devonian arc–continent collision.

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