skip to main content

Title: A hidden Rodinian lithospheric keel beneath Zealandia, Earth's newly recognized continent
Abstract We present a data set of >1500 in situ O-Hf-U-Pb zircon isotope analyses that document the existence of a concealed Rodinian lithospheric keel beneath continental Zealandia. The new data reveal the presence of a distinct isotopic domain of Paleozoic–Mesozoic plutonic rocks that contain zircon characterized by anomalously low δ18O values (median = +4.1‰) and radiogenic εHf(t) (median = +6.1). The scale (>10,000 km2) and time span (>>250 m.y.) over which plutonic rocks with this anomalously low-δ18O signature were emplaced appear unique in a global context, especially for magmas generated and emplaced along a continental margin. Calculated crustal-residence ages (depleted mantle model, TDM) for this low-δ18O isotope domain range from 1300 to 500 Ma and are interpreted to represent melting of a Precambrian lithospheric keel that was formed and subsequently hydrothermally altered during Rodinian assembly and rifting. Recognition of a concealed Precambrian lithosphere beneath Zealandia and the uniqueness of the pervasive low-δ18O isotope domain link Zealandia to South China, providing a novel test of specific hypotheses of continental block arrangements within Rodinia.  more » « less
Award ID(s):
1650183 1655152
Author(s) / Creator(s):
; ; ; ; ; ; ;
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Page Range / eLocation ID:
1009 to 1014
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. Abstract We present >500 zircon δ18O and Lu-Hf isotope analyses on previously dated zircons to explore the interplay between spatial and temporal magmatic signals in Zealandia Cordillera. Our data cover ~8500 km2 of middle and lower crust in the Median Batholith (Fiordland segment of Zealandia Cordillera) where Mesozoic arc magmatism along the paleo-Pacific margin of Gondwana was focused along an ~100 km wide, arc-parallel zone. Our data reveal three spatially distinct isotope domains that we term the eastern, central, and western isotope domains. These domains parallel the Mesozoic arc-axis, and their boundaries are defined by major crustal-scale faults that were reactivated as ductile shear zones during the Early Cretaceous. The western isotope domain has homogenous, mantle-like δ 18O (Zrn) values of 5.8 ± 0.3‰ (2 and initial εHf (Zrn) values of +4.2 ± 1.0 (2 The eastern isotope domain is defined by isotopically low and homogenous δ18O (Zrn) values of 3.9 ± 0.2‰ and initial εHf values of +7.8 ± 0.6. The central isotope domain is characterized by transitional isotope values that display a strong E-W gradient with δ18O (Zrn) values rising from 4.6 to 5.9‰ and initial εHf values decreasing from +5.5 to +3.7. We find that the isotope architecture of the Median Batholith was in place before the initiation of Mesozoic arc magmatism and pre-dates Early Cretaceous contractional deformation and transpression. Our data show that Mesozoic pluton chemistry was controlled in part by long-lived, spatially distinct isotope domains that extend from the crust through to the upper mantle. Isotope differences between these domains are the result of the crustal architecture (an underthrusted low-δ18O source terrane) and a transient event beginning at ca. 129 Ma that primarily involved a depleted-mantle component contaminated by recycled trench sediments (10–20%). When data showing the temporal and spatial patterns of magmatism are integrated, we observe a pattern of decreasing crustal recycling of the low-δ18O source over time, which ultimately culminated in a mantle-controlled flare-up. Our data demonstrate that spatial and temporal signals are intimately linked, and when evaluated together they provide important insights into the crustal architecture and the role of both stable and transient arc magmatic trends in Cordilleran batholiths. 
    more » « less
  2. Nearly two decades since the first oxygen isotope (δ18O) studies of zircon in the Sierra Nevada Batholith, California, USA, a far more extensive picture of spatial and temporal patterns of magmatic δ18O has emerged in parallel with a tenfold increase in geochronologic coverage, and many new radiogenic isotope (Sr, Nd, Hf) analyses. Over this time, models of Cordilleran-type arc systems have sought to elucidate flare-ups of magmatism as cyclic, with radiogenic isotope “excursions” tracing variable input of crust and mantle into arc magmas [e.g., 1]. Such models haven't incorporated oxygen isotopes to full advantage because of apparent complexity in the signals they record [2]. New, single zircon δ18O analyses—of plutonic, volcanic, and detrital zircon—from the Sierra amplifiing the findings of previous studies [e.g., 3], that δ18O records are well-suited for detecting relatively fast (<10 million year) recycling of subducted supracrustal rock and accreted terranes in forearc settings. Such recycling is not resolved by radiogenic isotope systems. A wealth of new volcanic δ18O zircon data from the Sierra, along with δ18O of hydrothermal minerals like skarn garnet, also records periods of significant δ18O “pull-downs” as lower-δ18O hydrothermal waters alter surface rocks whose assimilation subsequently embeds these surface signals in silicic volcanic systems. Such re-melting and volcanic episodes are often brief (< 5 million years) and small volume, so have often been overlooked, however such, δ18O values may be key to detecting plutonic from volcanic zircon in detrital records when used in conjunction with trace elements. Low-δ18O domains are becoming recognized in other arcs and to be useful to detect episodic resampling of crustal domains [4]. Morover, discovery of fossil low-δ18O systems in screens of wallrock in mid-crustal levels [e.g., 5] documents wholesale rapid burial of these domains in arcs, during transitions to episodes of shortening or transpression. All together, zircon δ18O uniquely traces surface- to-source transport and recycling in Cordilleran arcs as it relates to changing arc stress regime, at periods that may fail to be recorded in excursions of radiogenic isotopes, such as relaxation of stress regimes in upper plate domains. [1] DeCelles, P. G. et al. Nature Geoscience 2, 251-257 (2009) ; [2] Chapman, J. B. et al. Lithos 398- 299, (2021); [3] Lackey, J. S., et. al. J. Petrology 49, 1397–1426 (2008); [4] Turnbull, R. E. et al. Gondwana Res. 121, 436-471; [5] Ryan-Davis, J. et al. Contributions to Min. and Pet 174, 19 (2019) 
    more » « less
  3. null (Ed.)
    Zircons widely occur in magmatic rocks and often display internal zonation finely recording the magmatic history. Here, we presented in situ high-precision (2SD <0.15‰ for δ 94 Zr) and high–spatial-resolution (20 µm) stable Zr isotope compositions of magmatic zircons in a suite of calc-alkaline plutonic rocks from the juvenile part of the Gangdese arc, southern Tibet. These zircon grains are internally zoned with Zr isotopically light cores and increasingly heavier rims. Our data suggest the preferential incorporation of lighter Zr isotopes in zircon from the melt, which would drive the residual melt to heavier values. The Rayleigh distillation model can well explain the observed internal zoning in single zircon grains, and the best-fit models gave average zircon–melt fractionation factors for each sample ranging from 0.99955 to 0.99988. The average fractionation factors are positively correlated with the median Ti-in-zircon temperatures, indicating a strong temperature dependence of Zr isotopic fractionation. The results demonstrate that in situ Zr isotope analyses would be another powerful contribution to the geochemical toolbox related to zircon. The findings of this study solve the fundamental issue on how zircon fractionates Zr isotopes in calc-alkaline magmas, the major type of magmas that led to forming continental crust over time. The results also show the great potential of stable Zr isotopes in tracing magmatic thermal and chemical evolution and thus possibly continental crustal differentiation. 
    more » « less
  4. null (Ed.)
    Abstract The Duluth Complex (Minnesota, USA) is one of the largest mafic intrusive complexes on Earth. It was emplaced as the Midcontinent Rift developed in Laurentia’s interior during an interval of magmatism and extension from ca. 1109 to 1084 Ma. This duration of magmatic activity is more protracted than is typical for large igneous provinces interpreted to have formed from decompression melting of upwelling mantle plumes. While the overall duration was protracted, there were intervals of more voluminous magmatism. New 206Pb/238U zircon dates for the anorthositic and layered series of the Duluth Complex constrain these units to have been emplaced ca. 1096 Ma in <1 m.y. (duration of 500 ± 260 k.y.). Comparison of paleomagnetic data from these units with Laurentia’s apparent polar wander path supports this interpretation. This rapid emplacement bears similarities to the geologically short duration of well-dated large igneous provinces. These data support hypotheses that call upon the co-location of lithospheric extension and anomalously hot upwelling mantle. This rapid magmatic pulse occurred >10 m.y. after initial magmatism following >20° of latitudinal plate motion. A likely scenario is one in which upwelling mantle encountered the base of Laurentian lithosphere and flowed via “upside-down drainage” to locally thinned lithosphere of the Midcontinent Rift. 
    more » « less
  5. Abstract

    The northwest-trending transition zone (TZ) in Arizona (southwestern United States) is an ~100-km-wide physiographic province that separates the relatively undeformed southwestern margin of the Colorado Plateau from the hyperextended Basin and Range province to the southwest. The TZ is widely depicted to have been a Late Cretaceous–Paleogene northeast-dipping erosional slope along which Proterozoic rocks were denuded but not significantly deformed. Our multi-method thermochronological study (biotite 40Ar/39Ar, zircon and apatite [U-Th-Sm]/He, and apatite fission track) of Proterozoic rocks in the Bradshaw Mountains of the west-central Arizona TZ reveals relatively rapid cooling (~10 °C/m.y.) from temperatures of >180 °C to <60 °C between ca. 70 and ca. 50 Ma. Given minimal ca. 70–50 Ma upper-crustal shortening in the TZ, we attribute cooling to exhumation driven by northeastward bulldozing of continental lower crust and mantle lithosphere beneath it by the Farallon flat slab. Bulldozing is consistent with contemporaneous (ca. 70–50 Ma) underplating and initial exhumation of Orocopia Schist to the southwest in western Arizona and Mesozoic garnet-clinopyroxenite xenoliths of possible Mojave batholith keel affinity in ca. 25 Ma TZ volcanic rocks.

    more » « less