We present three new high-precision U–Pb zircon chemical abrasion–isotope dilution–thermal ionization mass spectrometry (CA-ID-TIMS) dates from western European Carboniferous diagenetically altered volcanic ash layers (bentonites and tonsteins) that occur interbedded with cyclic siliciclastic sedimentary rocks. The dates constrain the average periodicity of western European late Carboniferous (Arnsbergian to early Langsettian) cyclic sedimentation to between 89 and 124 ka per cycle. This is consistent with the 100 ka ‘short’ eccentricity Milankovitch cycle and supports previous suggestions that the cycles are the product of glacio-eustasy. Cyclostratigraphic tuning of Namurian cycles to the 100 ka eccentricity cycle revises the timing of the global Mississippian–Pennsylvanian boundary to c. 323.9 Ma. CA-ID-TIMS dates also facilitate correlation between different facies belts where biostratigraphical correlations are difficult. Correlation between eastern and western European sequences confirms that the base of the Moscovian stage is located within the Duckmantian (Westphalian B) western European regional substage.
Zircon separation and concentration procedures, U–Pb zircon CA-ID-TIMS methods and data table, average periodicity calculations for western and central European Namurian and Westphalian sedimentary cycles, and procedures for recalibrating legacy 40Ar/39Ar dates are available at www.geolsoc.org.uk/SUP18547.