To address the longstanding issue of provenance interpretation of non-unique detrital zircon age populations, we integrated zircon U-Pb, rare earth element (REE), and εHf(t) data from upper Paleozoic strata in the northern Central Colorado Trough and Cambrian intrusions with petrography, paleocurrent data, and structural and stratigraphic observations. This data set indicates that Cambrian sediment was shed by multiple local sources instead of distant sources hundreds of kilometers away, and it reveals a detailed history of tectonic drainage reorganization in the northern Central Colorado Trough during Ancestral Rocky Mountain deformation. During the Early–Middle Pennsylvanian, Cambrian detrital zircons were a minor constituent of northern Central Colorado Trough sediment. However, during the Late Pennsylvanian–early Permian, westward advancement of the adjacent Apishapa Uplift deformation front precipitated drainage reorganization, which resulted in an episode of dominant Cambrian detrital zircon sourcing. Paleocurrent and petrographic data indicate that the source of Cambrian detritus was shed by an igneous rock body that was ≤15 km northeast of the depocenter, which has since been eroded away or mantled by Tertiary volcanic rocks. The addition of zircon petrochronology to the data set applied here was critical in confirming this hidden source of detritus and elucidating the compositional characteristics of that igneous rock. Zircon εHf(t) provided a regional provenance indicator of a western Laurentian affinity, and REE composition aided in discriminating possible local sources of Cambrian zircon. Furthermore, this work serves as a case study of a dominant Cambrian detrital zircon signature sourced from outside of the well-known Amarillo-Wichita Uplift, and it has implications for the interpretation of such detrital spectra in the context of a direct-from-basement source or the recycling of Cambrian zircon-dominated rocks. In summary, we demonstrate the utility of this multi-provenance proxy approach in interpreting a complex structural history of a dynamic hinterland and concomitant drainage reorganization through an in-depth investigation into the basin record.

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