Grenvillian ages dominate Neoproterozoic to Paleozoic detrital zircon (DZ) populations across eastern Laurentia and persist through the present. The persistence of this dominance is inferred to result from recycling of DZ grains ultimately sourced from exceptionally Zr-rich and zircon-fertile Grenvillian granitoids. Pennsylvanian arenites of the Appalachian Basin (eastern United States) exhibit DZ U-Pb age distributions that are nearly identical to those of Neoproterozoic to Cambrian strata, and contain detrital diagenetic monazite grains formed via metamorphism or diagenesis of sedimentary rocks in the source region. Detrital zircon (U-Th)/He ages are mostly 475–300 Ma, yielding lag times [Δt = U-Pb age – (U-Th)/He age] of 500–1000 m.y. and 1200–2400 m.y. for Grenvillian and Paleoproterozoic to Archean DZ grains, respectively. Detrital monazite Th-Pb ages are comparable to (U-Th)/He cooling ages, reflecting formation of monazite during Paleozoic regional metamorphism of Neoproterozoic to Cambrian strata that reset the (U-Th)/He systematics of Grenvillian DZ grains within those metasediments. These results are either consistent with or prove recycling. Incorporation of other geological constraints permits definition of at least three (and potentially five) recycling events and their timing following initial post-Grenvillian exhumation and erosion (the “great Grenvillian sedimentation episode”). Recycling events include dispersal of post- Grenvillian sediment during deposition of Neoproterozoic to Cambrian strata (formation of the “Great Unconformity”: cycle 1), subsequent erosion of metamorphosed Neoproterozoic to Cambrian strata generating detritus for the Pennsylvanian arenites sampled here (cycle 2), and modern erosion of those arenites (cycle 3). Pancontinental river systems facilitated dispersal of sediment of ultimate Grenvillian age during or after each cycle.
Persistence of Grenvillian dominance in Laurentian detrital zircon age systematics explained by sedimentary recycling: Evidence from detrital zircon double dating and detrital monazite textures and geochronology
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S.C. Zotto, D.P. Moecher, N.A. Niemi, J.R. Thigpen, S.D. Samson; Persistence of Grenvillian dominance in Laurentian detrital zircon age systematics explained by sedimentary recycling: Evidence from detrital zircon double dating and detrital monazite textures and geochronology. Geology doi: https://doi.org/10.1130/G47530.1
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