Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Provenance of Devonian-Carboniferous strata of Colorado: The influence of the Cambrian and the Proterozoic

June 24, 2022

We report new LA-ICPMS U-Pb detrital zircon ages and sedimentary petrology of silty to sandy limestones and dolostones, as well as calcareous to dolomitic sandstones of the Devonian-Carboniferous (Mississippian) Chaffee Group, as well as detrital zircon ages from the Late Cambrian Sawatch Quartzite and a U-Pb zircon crystallization age on a late Mesoproterozoic (1087.9 13.5 Ma) granitoid of underlying basement from the Eagle basin of Colorado. Grain populations in the Chaffee Group are mostly bimodal, with over 84% of zircons centered around a Paleoproterozoic (ca. 1.78 Ga) mode typical of the Yavapai Province that forms much of the basement of Colorado and an early Mesoproterozoic (ca. 1.42 Ga) mode typical of A-type granites that intrude this region. A notable late Mesoproterozoic (ca. 1.08 Ga) mode exists in some Chaffee samples, giving those samples a trimodal detrital zircon age distribution. These bipartite or tripartite detrital zircon age modes exist in Cambrian, Devonian and Carboniferous strata from paleogeographically adjacent successions, but the correlation between the Chaffee zircons is highest with the regions basal Cambrian sandstones (Sawatch, Flathead, Ignacio formations) which have similar (1.08 Ga, 1.43 Ga, 1.71 Ga) zircon populations and a paucity of >1.8 Ga grains. This similarity suggests that the majority of grains in the Chaffee Group derive from recycling of these basal sandstones, and that little sediment was derived directly from then-exposed Precambrian basement highs, from the Wyoming Craton to the north, or from Paleoproterozoic arcs and orogens to the west and northeast. Minor Mesoarchean to early Paleoproterozoic (ca. 3.00 to 2.40 Ga) grains exist in the Chaffee Group, an attribute shared by the Late Ordovician Harding Sandstone of Colorados Front Range, but that is absent from the regions underlying Cambrian sandstonessuggesting some recycled mixture of Cambrian and Ordovician sedimentary rocks. No near-depositional age grains are present in the Chaffee Group; the youngest grain is Early Devonian (~417 Ma), >45 m.y. older than these strata, and Paleozoic grains are extremely uncommon (<0.1%; n=2927 grains).

Citation Information

Publication Year 2022
Title Provenance of Devonian-Carboniferous strata of Colorado: The influence of the Cambrian and the Proterozoic
DOI 10.24872/rmgjournal.57.1.1
Authors Christopher S. Holm-Denoma, William A. Matthews, Linda Soar, Mark W. Longman, James W. Hagadorn
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Rocky Mountain Geology
Series Number
Index ID 70232283
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Geology, Geophysics, and Geochemistry Science Center

Related Content