Friday, December 16, 2016

How to Determine the Origin of Potential Cryogenian Neoproterozoic Dropstones From Death Valley


Le Heron et al


Multiple intercalations of glacially derived and slope-derived diamictites testify to the drawbacks of correlating Neoproterozoic diamictites more widely, but shed new light on the close interrelationship of these processes in the Cryogenian world. In the Neoproterozoic of Death Valley, California (USA), rifting of Rodinia occurred concomitantly with a major glacial event that deposited the Kingston Peak Formation. A new sedimentologic investigation of this formation in the Silurian Hills demonstrates, for the first time, that some diamictites are ultimately of glacial origin. Abundant dropstone textures occur in interstratified heterolithic deposits, with clasts of identical composition (gneiss, schist, granite, metabasite, quartzite) to those of boulder-bearing diamictites suggesting a common source (the glacial conveyor belt). In stark contrast, megaclast-bearing diamictites, yielding clasts of carbonate and siliciclastic preglacial strata as much as 100 m across, are interpreted as olistostromes. The occurrence of syn-sedimentary faults within the succession allows glacial versus slope-derived material to be distinguished for the first time.

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