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Monazite and xenotime petrochronologic constraints on four Proterozoic tectonic episodes and ca. 1705 Ma age of the Uncompahgre Formation, southwestern Colorado, USA

June 23, 2023

The Proterozoic tectonic evolution of the south-western USA remains incompletely understood due to limited constraints on the timing and conditions of the tectono-metamorphic phases and depositional age of metasedimentary successions. We integrated multi-scale compositional mapping, petrologic modeling, and in situ geochronology to constrain pressure-temperature-time paths from samples of Paleoproterozoic basement gneisses and overlying quartzites in southwestern Colorado, USA. Basement gneiss from the western Needle Mountains records metamorphic conditions of 600 °C at 0.75 GPa at 1764 ± 9 Ma and ~575 °C at 1741 ± 10 Ma. Gneiss sampled from drill core near Pagosa Springs, Colorado, records conditions of 700 °C at 1748 ± 9 Ma, 800 °C at 1.1 GPa at 1650 ± 40 Ma, 540 °C at 1570 ± 36 Ma, and 440 °C at 1424 ± 12 Ma. The Uncompahgre Formation was deposited at ca. 1705 Ma, as constrained by detrital monazite (1707 ± 8 Ma) and xenotime (1692 ± 40, 1725 ± 50 Ma), metamorphic xenotime (1650 ± 10 Ma), and published 40Ar/39Ar and detrital zircon data. Compositions of ca. 1705 Ma detrital monazite and xenotime are consistent with derivation from a garnet-bearing source in the Yavapai orogenic hinterland. The Vallecito Conglomerate and Uncompahgre Formation record macroscopic folding and greenschist-facies metamorphism at 1650 ± 10 Ma and temperatures of 270 °C to >570 °C at 1470–1400 Ma. Laser ablation–inductively coupled plasma–mass spectrometry (LA-ICP-MS) zircon geochronology yielded dates of 1775 ± 18 Ma from the Twilight Gneiss and 1696 ± 7 Ma from the Bakers Bridge Granite, supporting previous isotope dilution–thermal ionization mass spectrometry (ID-TIMS) dates. The Eolus Granite yielded a date of 1463 ± 6 Ma, which is older than previous 1.44–1.43 Ga ID-TIMS dates. The newly dated granite of Cataract Gulch is 1421 ± 12 Ma. In situ analysis of detrital and metamorphic monazite and xenotime, igneous zircon, and quantitative thermobarometry, integrated with previously published constraints, indicate multiple tectonic episodes after the emplacement of 1800–1760 Ma arc-related rocks. The region experienced greenschist- to amphibolite-facies metamorphism (M1) from 1760 Ma to 1740 Ma, which was followed by the intrusion of granites at 1730–1695 Ma and deposition of the Uncompahgre Formation at ca. 1705 Ma, contemporaneous with the Yavapai orogeny. Metamorphism at 1680–1600 Ma was characterized by greenschist-facies conditions near Ouray, Colorado, and granulite-facies conditions near Pagosa Springs (M2) during the Mazatzal orogeny. From 1470 Ma to 1400 Ma, greenschist- to amphibolite-facies metamorphism (M3) and largely granitic plutonism occurred during the protracted Picuris orogeny. These results demonstrate the power of monazite and xenotime analyses to constrain depositional ages, provenance, and pressure-temperature-time (P-T-t) paths to resolve the compound orogenic history that is characteristic of most mountain belts.

Publication Year 2023
Title Monazite and xenotime petrochronologic constraints on four Proterozoic tectonic episodes and ca. 1705 Ma age of the Uncompahgre Formation, southwestern Colorado, USA
DOI 10.1130/GES02631.1
Authors Ian William Hillenbrand, Michael L. Williams, Karl E. Karlstrom, Amy K. Gilmer, Heather A. Lowers, Michael J. Jercinovic, Kaitlyn Suarez, Amanda (Kate) Souders
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Geosphere
Index ID 70246674
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Central Mineral and Environmental Resources Science Center; Geosciences and Environmental Change Science Center; Geology, Geophysics, and Geochemistry Science Center