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Carbonate clumped isotope constraints on burial, uplift and exhumation histories of the Colorado Plateau

Ryb, Uri and Lloyd, Max K. and Eiler, John M. (2021) Carbonate clumped isotope constraints on burial, uplift and exhumation histories of the Colorado Plateau. Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 566 . Art. No. 116964. ISSN 0012-821X. doi:10.1016/j.epsl.2021.116964.

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The timing, extent and driving mechanisms of burial, uplift and exhumation of the Colorado Plateau, and the carving of the Grand Canyon have been at the center of a long-standing controversy. Here, we develop a new approach to constrain burial and exhumation histories of sedimentary basins from the distributions of ‘clumped’ isotope compositions in carbonate minerals. We apply this approach to constrain peak-burial temperatures and infer the extent of peak sediment overburden and total exhumation of the Colorado Plateau at several sites extending from the Plateau's southwestern margin to its interior. Our constraints are broadly consistent with independent reconstructions of thermal history from low-temperature thermochronometry and oil-maturation indices. Together these data suggest that ∼3 km of rocks have been removed by erosion across the Plateau. This inferred prior extent of sediment overburden is consistent with the presence of a ∼1 km deep canyon at the Upper Gorge of the Grand Canyon during the Early Eocene, and therefore with topography at that time similar to today. Combined with the published record of partial exhumation—based on apatite-thermochronometry and stratigraphic constraints—we find that 63-83% of the total exhumation of the southwestern Plateau occurred prior to the Neogene. This is consistent with Sevier-Laramide contractional tectonism and/or pre-Neogene modification of the Colorado Plateau lithosphere driving uplift there. In contrast, apatite thermochronometry suggests that in the interior plateau, ∼50% of the total exhumation has occurred after the integration of the Colorado River – indicating a much younger source for uplift and the exhumation there. Considering recent suggestions that efficient exhumation of the Plateau by escarpment-retreat is associated with the incision of the drainage system, early exhumation of the Lower Gorge and Grand Wash segments of the Grand Canyon is consistent with the pre-Neogene carving of these segments, followed by relative stability of the base level.

Item Type:Article
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URLURL TypeDescription
Ryb, Uri0000-0002-6439-9618
Lloyd, Max K.0000-0001-9367-2698
Eiler, John M.0000-0001-5768-7593
Additional Information:© 2021 Elsevier. Received 6 July 2020, Revised 11 February 2021, Accepted 16 April 2021, Available online 28 April 2021. We thank Yael Kiro, Alex Lipp, and Nami Kitchen for assisting in field and lab procedures, and Eitan Shelef for insightful discussions. We thank the Grand Canyon National Park Service and the US Geological Survey Core Research Center for facilitating the collection of samples. We thank two anonymous reviewers for critical and detailed reviews. This work was supported by NSF Grant EAR-1624827 (to J.M.E.). CRediT authorship contribution statement. Uri Ryb: Conceptualization, Investigation, Writing – original draft. Max K. Lloyd: Investigation, Writing – review & editing. John M. Eiler: Conceptualization, Funding acquisition, Writing – review & editing. The authors declare that they have no known competing financial interests or personal relationships that could have appeared to influence the work reported in this paper.
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Subject Keywords:clumped isotope; Colorado Plateau; Grand Canyon; thermal history; carbonate; exhumation
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20210626-183441536
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Official Citation:Uri Ryb, Max K. Lloyd, John M. Eiler, Carbonate clumped isotope constraints on burial, uplift and exhumation histories of the Colorado Plateau, Earth and Planetary Science Letters, Volume 566, 2021, 116964, ISSN 0012-821X,
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:109607
Deposited By: George Porter
Deposited On:28 Jun 2021 23:08
Last Modified:16 Nov 2021 19:37

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