Provenance analysis provides a powerful means to understand, connect, and reconstruct source-to-sink systems and Earth surface processes, if reliable toolkits can be developed, refined, and applied. Deciphering sediment routing to the Scotian Basin, offshore eastern Canada, is marred by sedimentary recycling but is critical to understanding the evolution of the Canadian margin in response to the evolving Labrador rift. In this study, Pb isotopes in detrital K-feldspars were fingerprinted in 13 wells across the Scotian Basin to track first-cycle sand supply. Unlike previous approaches, which utilized less labile proxies such as zircon, detrital K-feldspars are unlikely to survive multiple sedimentary cycles.
The Pb-isotopic data reveal a dynamic seesaw effect between hinterland sources across the Jurassic-Cretaceous boundary, reflecting the complex interplay between the northward propagation of uplift along the rising Labrador rift flank and the reactivation of fault systems in the lower drainage basin. Pb isotopes in K-feldspar record progressively increasing long-distance supply from eastern Labrador, as early as the Callovian in the central basin, alongside diminishing but persistent local sourcing from adjacent Appalachian terranes. Comparison with more resilient mineral proxies, notably zircon, appears to confirm recycling in the lower drainage basin and highlights the limitations of using a single mineral proxy in isolation.
This case study serves as an example of the growing potential of multiproxy provenance toolkits not only to decipher sediment-routing corridors in paleodrainage systems, but to better define and connect the drivers, mechanisms, and spatial and temporal ranges of Earth surface processes and tectonic events.