Monday, March 18, 2013

Triassic River Systems of Northwest Pangea

Triassic river systems and the paleo-Pacific margin of northwestern Pangea


1. Elizabeth L. Miller (a)
2. Alexey V. Soloviev (b)
3. Andrei V. Prokopiev (c)
4. Jaime Toro (d)
5. Dan Harris (d)
6. Alexander B. Kuzmichev (b)
7. George E. Gehrels (e)


a. Department of Geological and Environmental Sciences, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305, USA

b. Geological Institute, Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow, Russia

c. Diamond and Precious Metal Geology Institute, Siberian Branch, Russian Academy of Sciences, Yakutsk, Russia

d. Dept. Geology and Geography, West Virginia University, Morgantown, WV, USA

e. Department of Geosciences, University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona 85721, USA


Detrital zircon U–Pb ages from Triassic strata exposed in the circum-Arctic, analyzed by LA-ICP-MS and SHRIMP-RG, are compared at the regional scale to better understand the paleogeography of northern Pangea and help restore rift opening of the Arctic. Data sets are compared based on their zircon age distributions, cumulative age probability plots, and the K–S test. Three major source regions are characterized. These fed clastic material to transcontinental river systems that transported material from the highlands of northwestern Pangea to its once continuous paleo-Pacific continental margin. The paleo-Lena River System was fed from sources in the Baikalian and Altay-Sayan mountainous regions of Siberia. Zircon populations are characterized by a limited number of Precambrian zircons (~ 1.8–2.0 Ga with fewer ~ 2.5–3.0 Ga), lack of 0.9–1.8 Ga zircons, and a dominant 480–500 Ma and 290–300 Ma age population. The paleo-Taimyr River System was sourced from the Uralian orogenic belt region and deposited along a rifted portion of the Siberia–Baltica margin beginning in the Permo–Triassic. Precambrian zircon populations are similar to those of the paleo-Lena system, and samples closest to Siberia have similar populations in the 480–500 Ma and 290–300 Ma age ranges. Chukotka, Wrangel Island and Lisburne Hills, Alaska, have sparse ages between 900 and 1800 Ma, Ordovician ages are younger (~ 440–450 Ma), and, along with abundant ~ 300 Ma ages, they contain ~ 250–260 Ma and lesser ~ 215–235 Ma zircons, interpreted as derived from silicic volcanic centers associated with Permo–Triassic to Triassic continental flood basalt provinces in Siberia, Taimyr and Kara Sea region. The trans-Laurentian River System was likely fed by rift-related uplift along the proto North Atlantic/Arctic margin and delivered sediment to the Cordilleran margin of Pangea. These samples have no significant upper Paleozoic zircons and have a much broader age range of Precambrian zircons.

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