Oligo-Miocene Alpine Sediment Routing from Integrated Analysis of Seismic-Reflection Data and Detrital Zircon U-Pb Geochronology

Tuesday, 16 December 2014
Glenn Sharman, Stanford University, Department of Geological and Environmental Sciences,, Los Altos Hills, CA, United States, Stephen Michial Hubbard, University of Calgary, Department of Geoscience, Calgary, AB, Canada and Jacob A Covault, Chevron Corporation Houston, Energy Technology Company, Houston, TX, United States
We integrate detrital zircon geochronology and 3D seismic-reflection data to reconstruct Oligo-Miocene paleogeography and sediment routing from the Alpine hinterland to Austrian Molasse foreland basin. Three-dimensional seismic-reflection data image a network of deepwater tributaries and a long-lived (>8 Ma) foredeep-axial channel belt through which predominantly southerly and westerly turbidity currents are interpreted to have transported Alpine detritus >100 km. We analyzed 793 detrital zircon grains from ten sandstone samples collected from the seismically mapped network of channel fill. Grain age populations correspond with major Alpine orogenic cycles: the Cadomian (750-530 Ma), the Caledonian (500-400 Ma), and the Variscan orogenies (350-250 Ma). Additional age populations correspond with Eocene-Oligocene Periadriatic magmatism (40-30 Ma) and pre-Alpine, Precambrian sources >750 Ma. The abundances of these age populations vary between samples. Sediment that entered the foredeep-axial channel belt from the west (freshwater Molasse) and southwest (Inntal fault zone) is characterized by statistically indistinguishable, well-distributed detrital zircon ages. Sandstone from a shallow marine unit that was deposited proximal to the northern basin margin consists of >75% Variscan (350-300 Ma) zircon, which is believed to have originated from the Bohemian Massif to the north. Mixing calculations based on the Kolmogorov-Smirnoff statistic suggest that the Alpine fold-thrust belt was an important source of detritus to the deepwater Molasse basin. We document east-to-west provenance dilution within the axial channel belt via one or more southern tributaries. Our results have important implications for sediment dispersal patterns within continental-scale orogens, including the relative role of longitudinal versus transverse sediment delivery in peripheral foreland basins.