Detrital zircon LASS-ICP-MS petrochronologic depth profiling for determining source-to-sink relationships in the Central Alps.
Abstract:Laser Ablation-Split Stream Depth Profiling (LASS-DP) ICP-MS petrochronology of detrital zircon (DZ) from Oligocene-Miocene strata in the Molasse and Northern Apennines showcases, in the light of the well-constrained depositional history of these successions, the advantages of this novel approach compared to traditional single and split-stream detrital zircon techniques in elucidating sediment provenance and source-to-sink relationships.
While DZ U-Pb data from Oligocene-Miocene strata deposited in both the Molasse and Northern Apennines document shifts in the relative abundance of Cadomian, Caledonian, Variscan and Alpine aged detrital zircon, the source regions remain ambiguous due to non-diagnostic crystallization ages, leading to minimal zircon age variability. In contrast, DZ LASS-DP-ICP-MS petrochronology allows for the simultaneous recovery of multiple U-Pb ages and corresponding geochemical data, and thus dramatically increases our ability to resolve the petrogenetic history of individual DZ grains. The technique shows the immense power of determining the growth history of single DZ grains (rim to core relationships) and identifying/resolving the presence and age of thin magmatic/metamorphic overgrowths.
Rupelian turbidites in the Apenninic foredeep exhibit a DZ population with consistent <5 mm Cretaceous metamorphic overgrowths that would likely not be resolved as a coherent population in polished sections. LASS-DP ICP-MS analysis of Caledonian and Variscan detrital zircon populations from the Molasse Basin show a distinct shift in rim-core age pairs in individual zircons that point to the erosion of different source during progressive Alpine unroofing. The geochemical data confirm a crustally derived magmatic source for the majority of the detrital zircon grains within the basin. While this technique, in comparison to traditional polished mounts, might underrepresent older core ages, this slight bias is clearly offset by the better definition and resolution of overgrowth populations. DZ LASS-DP-ICPMS petrochronology is a powerful novel tool in better leveraging the growth history of single zircons and thus determining source-to-sink relationships in sedimentary basins.