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Publication Detail
The influence of burial heating on the (U-Th)/He system in apatite: Grand Canyon case study
  • Publication Type:
    Journal article
  • Publication Sub Type:
    Journal Article
  • Authors:
    Fox M, Shuster DL
  • Publication date:
  • Pagination:
    174, 183
  • Journal:
    Earth and Planetary Science Letters
  • Volume:
  • Status:
  • Print ISSN:
Thermochronological data can constrain the cooling paths of rocks exhumed through the uppermost 1-2 km of earth's crust, and have thus been pivotal in illuminating topographic development over timescales >0.1 Ma. However, in some cases, different methods have led to conflicting conclusions about timing of valley-scale exhumation. Here, we investigate the case of Western Grand Canyon, USA, where different thermochronological datasets have been interpreted to record very different timings of canyon incision (~70 Ma versus ~5 Ma). We present a method to assess key assumptions in these constraints and demonstrate that burial heating conditions of basement rocks in the Mesozoic can result in incomplete annealing of radiation damage in apatite. In turn, this has a dramatic effect on the temperature sensitivity of the apatite (U-Th)/He system and its ability to record post-burial exhumation. The possibility of incomplete annealing resolves the apparent conflict in time-temperature paths inferred over the last 70 Ma, although it requires temperatures during burial that are lower than predicted by apatite fission track data. A refinement of parameters that prescribe the kinetics of damage annealing and related control on 4He diffusivity in apatite would account for this discrepancy, specifically if alpha recoil damage anneals at a lower rate than fission tracks at a given temperature. These effects will be important for any application of the apatite (U-Th)/He system in geologic settings that experienced prolonged residence (>10 Ma) between 50-150°C; the approaches developed here provide means to assess these effects. © 2014 Elsevier B.V.
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