Abstract

Fission-track grain-age distributions for detrital zircon are used in this study to resolve the late Cenozoic exhumation history of the European Alps. Grain-age distributions were determined for six sandstone samples and one modern river sediment sample, providing a record from 15 Ma to present. All samples can be traced to sources in the Western and Central Alps. The grain-age distributions are dominated by two components, P1 (8–25 Ma) and P2 (16–35 Ma), both of which show steady lag times (cooling age minus depositional age), with an average of 7.9 m.y. for P1 and 16.7 m.y. for P2. These results indicate steady-state exhumation in the source region at rates of ∼0.4–0.7 km/m.y. since at least 15 Ma.

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