Abstract

U-Pb dating of 1035 detrital zircons from 12 spatially distributed samples of the Paleoproterozoic Vishnu Schist (Arizona, United States) reveals a bimodal 207Pb/206Pb age probability diagram with peaks at 1.8 Ga and 2.5 Ga. Surprisingly, only 13% of detrital zircon ages overlap with the published depositional age range of 1750–1741 Ma. The similarity of the age distributions in all samples constrains possible suturing of crustal blocks to pre–Vishnu Schist deposition rather than during the peak 1710–1680 Ma deformation. Of all grains analyzed, 15% overlap at 2σ with the 1.84 ± 1 Ga Elves Chasm orthogneiss of the western Grand Canyon. This supports field evidence that the Vishnu Schist was deposited on 1.84 Ga arc basement rather than in a juvenile 1.75 Ga arc setting. Archean grains of 3.8–2.5 Ga compose 30% of all grains. A comparison of the ages older than 2.2 Ga from the Vishnu Schist (495 grains) with compilations of zircon ages from other cratons does not support provenances in the Wyoming, South China, or Siberian cratons; instead sources may be located in Gawler craton of Australia, North China craton, or Antarctica. If the detrital zircons were far-traveled, this is a new constraint for viable reconstructions of the Nuna supercontinent. However, given the high percentage of pre–1.8 Ga zircons, unexposed proximal basement sources are more likely, resulting in a model by which Vishnu sediments were derived from Mojave province crust that consists of Archean and 1.9–1.8 Ga crust, now in the subsurface, that was unroofed during Vishnu deposition.

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