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Geochemical evidence for diachronous uplift and synchronous collapse of the high elevation Variscan hinterland

November 11, 2022

Competing end-member models for the late Paleozoic Variscan orogeny (ca. 360-290 Ma) alternatively suggest moderate 2-3 km elevations underlain by relatively thin crust (<50 km) or a thick crust (>55 km) that supported high 4-5 km elevations. We tested these models and quantified the crustal thickness and elevation evolution of the Variscan orogeny using igneous trace element geochemical proxies. The data suggest that thick crust (55-70 km) capable of supporting 3-5 km elevations developed diachronously from east to west between ca. 350 and 315 Ma. Crustal thinning occurred from ca. 315 Ma to 290 Ma across the orogen. Crustal thickness and elevation changes at ca. 340-325 Ma and 315-290 Ma correspond with increases in silicate weathering recorded by Sr and Li isotopes, consistent with models in which silicate weathering of the Variscan orogen contributed to global cooling associated with the late Paleozoic ice age.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2022
Title Geochemical evidence for diachronous uplift and synchronous collapse of the high elevation Variscan hinterland
DOI 10.1029/2022GL100435
Authors Ian William Hillenbrand, Michael L. Williams
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Geophysical Research Letters
Index ID 70238122
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Geosciences and Environmental Change Science Center