Abstract

The Sixth tuff of the Wilkins Peak Member of the Green River Formation is an important potential calibration point for magnetic stratigraphy, mammalian evolution, and lacustrine processes. However, two recent 40Ar/39Ar ages based on laser fusion of biotite from this important bed are not in agreement with one other. Most large, euhedral biotite from the basal 1 cm give concordant age spectra when incrementally heated. However, some crystals yield discordant age spectra and have plateau and integrated ages that are scattered toward both older and younger apparent ages. Electron-probe microanalysis indicates that intergrown alteration phases occur in a small fraction of Sixth tuff biotite crystals, and likely contributed to open-system processes that led to the observed discordance and age scatter. A new age of 49.62 ± 0.10 Ma is obtained from 22 concordant incremental-heating experiments. This age agrees with a new 49.78 ± 0.08 Ma age for the sanidine from the Layered tuff, which is stratigraphically 24 m below the Sixth tuff.

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