High-precision 40Ar/39Ar age for the Jehol Biota

Department of Earth and Planetary Science, University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720, USA
Palaeogeography Palaeoclimatology Palaeoecology (Impact Factor: 2.34). 09/2009; 280(1):94-104. DOI: 10.1016/j.palaeo.2009.06.021


Abundant fossils of the terrestrial Jehol Biota, including plants, insects, dinosaurs, birds, mammals and freshwater invertebrates, were discovered from the Yixian Formation and the overlying Jiufotang Formation in Inner Mongolia, Hebei Province and Liaoning Province, northeastern China. Because of the exceptional preservation of fossils, the Jehol Biota is one of the most important Mesozoic lagerstätten and is referred to as a “Mesozoic Pompeii”. The Jehol Biota has provided a rare opportunity to address questions about the origin of birds, the evolution of feathers and flight, the early diversification of angiosperms and the timing of placental mammal radiation. Six tuff samples and two basalt samples collected from the Tuchengzi, the Yixian and the Jiufotang formations near the classic outcrops in western Liaoning, NE China yielded high-precision 40Ar/39Ar ages. We obtain an age of 129.7 ± 0.5 Ma for a basaltic lava from the bottom of the Yixian Formation and an age of 122.1 ± 0.3 Ma for a tuff from the lowermost part of the overlying Jiufotang Formation. Our age results provide an age calibration of the whole Yixian Formation and show that the whole formation was deposited entirely within Early Cretaceous time over an interval of ~ 7 Ma.


Available from: Haichun Zhang, Nov 17, 2014
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