Published by Geological Society of America
The loss of Fe from some pre-2.2 Ga paleosols has been considered by previous investigators as the best evidence for a reduced atmosphere prior to 2.2 Ga. I have examined the behavior of Fe in both pre- and post-2.2 Ga paleosols from depth profiles of Fe3+/Ti, Fe2+/Ti, and sigma Fe/Ti ratios, and Fe3+/Ti vs. Fe2+/Ti plots. This new approach reveals a previously unrecognized history of paleosols. Essentially all paleosols, regardless of age, retain some characteristics of soils formed under an oxic atmosphere, such as increased Fe3+/Ti ratios from their parental rocks. The minimum oxygen pressure (PO2) for the 3.0-2.2 Ga atmosphere is calculated to be about 1.5% of the present atmospheric level, which is the same as that for the post-1.9 Ga atmosphere. The loss of sigma Fe, common in paleosol sections of all ages, was not due to a reducing atmosphere, but to reductive dissolution of ferric hydroxides formed under an oxic atmosphere. This reductive dissolution of ferric hydroxides occurred either (1) after soil formation by hydrothermal fluids or (2) during and/or after soil formation by organic acids generated from the decay of terrestrial organic matter. Terrestrial biomass on the early continents may have been more extensive than previously recognized.
The loss of Fe from some pre-2.2 Ga paleosols has been considered by previous investigators as the best evidence for a reduced atmosphere prior to 2.2 Ga. I have examined the behavior of Fe in both pre- and post-2.2 Ga paleosols from depth profiles of Fe3+/Ti, Fe2+/Ti, and ΣFe/Ti ratios, and Fe3+/Ti vs. Fe2+/Ti plots. This new approach reveals a previously unrecognized history of paleosols. Essentially all paleosols, regardless of age, retain some characteristics of soils formed under an oxic atmosphere, such as increased Fe3+/Ti ratios from their parental rocks. The minimum oxygen pressure (PO2) for the 3.0-2.2 Ga atmosphere is calculated to be about 1.5% of the present atmospheric level, which is the same as that for the post-1.9 Ga atmosphere. The loss of ΣFe, common in paleosol sections of all ages, was not due to a reducing atmosphere, but to reductive dissolution of ferric hydroxides formed under an oxic atmosphere. This reductive dissolution of ferric hydroxides occurred either (1) after soil formation by hydrothermal fluids or (2) during and/or after soil formation by organic acids generated from the decay of terrestrial organic matter. Terrestrial biomass on the early continents may have been more extensive than previously recognized.
Dark sericitic material at and near the top of the 2.765 +/- 0.01 Ga Mount Roe #2 paleosol in Western Australia contains 0.05-0.10 wt% organic carbon with delta 13C values between -33% and -51% PDB (Peedee belemnite). Such negative isotopic values strongly indicate that methanotrophs once inhabited this material. The textures and the chemical composition of the dark sericitic material indicate that the methanotrophs lived in or at the edges of ephemeral ponds, that these ponds became desiccated, and that heavy rains transported the material to its present sites. The discovery of methanotrophs associated with the Mount Roe #2 paleosol may extend their geologic record on land by at least 1.5 b.y. Methanotrophy in this setting is consistent with the notion that atmospheric methane levels were > or = 20 (mu)atm during the Late Archean. The radiative forcing due to such high atmospheric methane levels could have compensated for the faint younger sun and helped to prevent massive glaciation during the Late Archean.
The results of electron-microscopy investigations of calcite precipitated in a water-conducting fracture in a ca. 1800 Ma granitic rock from 207 m below sea level at the island of Aspo on the southeastern (Baltic) coast of Sweden are compared with measurements of carbon, oxygen, and sulfur isotope composition of the calcite and embedded pyrite. Parts of the calcite had extremely low delta 13C values, indicative of biological activity, and contained bacteria-like microfossils occurring in colonies and as typical biofllms. X-ray microanalysis demonstrated these fossils to be enriched in carbon. Our results provide evidence for ancient life in deep granitic rock aquifers and suggest that the modern microbial life found there is intrinsic. Modeling historical and present geochemical processes in deep granitic aquifers should, therefore, preferably include biologically catalyzed reactions. The results also suggest that the search for life on other planets, e.g., Mars, should include subsurface material.
The three well-documented occurrences of three-dimensional stromatolites older than 3.2 Ga meet most criteria for biogenicity except the presence of fossil bacteria. However, they also show features more consistent with nonbiological origins. Small conical structures in the Strelley Pool chert in the upper part of the Warrawoona Group (3.5-3.2 Ga), Western Australia, lack the structure typical of stromatolites and probably formed mainly through evaporitc precipitation. A domal structure from the North Pole chert, Warrawoona Group, formed by soft-sediment deformation or originally flat layers. Laminated chert containing domal and pseudocolumnar structures in the Onverwacht Group (3.5-3.3 Ga), Barberton Greenstone Belt, South Africa, extends downward into veins and cavities, where it formed through inorganic precipitation. Although bacterial communities were widespread on Earth prior to 3.2 Ga, these particular three-dimensional structures are probably abiotic in origin and do not provide information on the paleobiology or paleoecology of early organisms. The paucity of Archean stromatolites older than 3.2 Ga probably reflects the paucity of known and possibly extant carbonate deposits of this age.
The 3.55-3.22 Ga Barberton Greenstone Belt, South Africa and Swaziland, and surrounding coeval plutons can be divided into four tectono-stratigraphic blocks that become younger toward the northwest. Each block formed through early mafic to ultramafic volcanism (Onverwacht Group), probably in oceanic extensional, island, or plateau settings. Volcanism was followed by magmatic quiescence and deposition of fine-grained sediments, possibly in an intraplate setting. Late evolution involved underplating of the mafic crust by tonalitic intrusions along a subduction-related magmatic arc, yielding a thickened, buoyant protocontinental block. The growth of larger continental domains occurred both through magmatic accretion, as new protocontinental blocks developed along the margins of older blocks, and when previously separate blocks were amalgamated through tectonic accretion. Evolution of the Barberton Belt may reflect an Early Archean plate tectonic cycle that characterized a world with few or no large, stabilized blocks of sialic crust.
Restudy of Deep Sea Drilling Project Sites 536 and 540 in the southeast Gulf of Mexico gives evidence for a giant wave at Cretaceous-Tertiary boundary time. Five units are recognized: (1) Cenomanian limestone underlies a hiatus in which the five highest Cretaceous stages are missing, possibly because of catastrophic K-T erosion. (2) Pebbly mudstone, 45 m thick, represents a submarine landslide possibly of K-T age. (3) Current-bedded sandstone, more than 2.5 m thick, contains anomalous iridium, tektite glass, and shocked quartz; it is interpreted as ejecta from a nearby impact crater, reworked on the deep-sea floor by the resulting tsunami. (4) A 50-cm interval of calcareous mudstone containing small Cretaceous planktic foraminifera and the Ir peak is interpreted as the silt-size fraction of the Cretaceous material suspended by the impact-generated wave. (5) Calcareous mudstone with basal Tertiary forams and the uppermost tail of the Ir anomaly overlies the disturbed interval, dating the impact and wave event as K-T boundary age. Like Beloc in Haiti and Mimbral in Mexico, Sites 536 and 540 are consistent with a large K-T age impact at the nearby Chicxulub crater.
Sm-Nd isotopic data from carbonate-derived clay minerals of the 3.22-3.25 Ga Fig Tree Group, Barberton greenstone belt, South Africa, form a linear array corresponding to an age of 3102 +/- 64 Ma, making these minerals the oldest dated clays on Earth. The obtained age is 120-160 m.y. younger than the depositional age determined by zircon geochronology. Nd model ages for the clays range from approximately 3.39 to 3.44 Ga and almost cover the age variation of the Barberton greenstone belt rocks, consistent with independent evidence that the clay minerals are derived from material of the belt. The combined isotopic and mineralogical data provide evidence for a cryptic thermal overprint in the sediments of the belt. However, the highest temperature reached by the samples since the time of clay-mineral formation was <300 degrees C, lower than virtually any known early Archean supracrustal sequence.
To explore the formation and preservation of biogenic features in igneous rocks, we have examined the organisms in experimental basaltic microcosms using scanning and transmission electron microscopy. Four types of microorganisms were recognized on the basis of size, morphology, and chemical composition. Some of the organisms mineralized rapidly, whereas others show no evidence of mineralization. Many mineralized cells are hollow and do not contain evidence of microstructure. Filaments, either attached or no longer attached to organisms, are common. Unattached filaments are mineralized and are most likely bacterial appendages (e.g., prosthecae). Features similar in size and morphology to unattached, mineralized filaments are recognized in martian meteorite ALH84001.
Archean carbonates commonly contain decimetre- to metre-thick beds consisting entirely of fibrous calcite and neomorphosed fibrous aragonite that precipitated in situ on the sea floor. The fact that such thick accumulations of precipitated carbonate are rare in younger marine carbonates suggests an important change in the modes of calcium carbonate precipitation through time. Kinetics of carbonate precipitation depend on the concentration of inhibitors to precipitation that reduce crystallization rates and crystal nuclei formation, leading to kinetic maintenance of supersaturated solutions. Inhibitors also affect carbonate textures by limiting micrite precipitation and promoting growth of older carbonate crystals on the sea floor. Fe2+, a strong calcite-precipitation inhibitor, is thought to have been present at relatively high concentrations in Archean seawater because oxygen concentrations were low. The rise in oxygen concentration at 2.2-1.9 Ga led to the removal of Fe2+ from seawater and resulted in a shift from Archean facies, which commonly include precipitated beds, to Proterozoic facies, which contain more micritic sediment and only rare precipitated beds.
The Ordovician radiation of marine life was among the most substantial pulses of diversification in Earth history and coincided in time with a major increase in the global level of orogenic activity. To investigate a possible causal link between these two patterns, the geographic distributions of 6576 individual appearances of Ordovician vician genera around the world were evaluated with respect to their proximity to probable centers of orogeny (foreland basins). Results indicate that these genera, which belonged to an array of higher taxa that diversified in the Middle and Late Ordovician (trilobites, brachiopods, bivalves, gastropods, monoplacophorans), were far more diverse in, and adjacent to, foreland basins than they were in areas farther removed from orogenic activity (carbonate platforms). This suggests an association of orogeny with diversification at that time.
Differences in the rate of coral reef carbonate deposition from the Pleistocene to the Holocene may account for the Quaternary variation of atmospheric CO2. Volumes of carbonate associated with Holocene reefs require an average deposition rate of 2.0 x 10(13) mol/yr for the past 5 ka. In light of combined riverine, midocean ridge, and ground-water fluxes of calcium to the oceans of 2.3 x 10(13) mol/yr, the current flux of calcium carbonate to pelagic sediments must be far below the Pleistocene average of 1.2 x 10(13) mol/yr. We suggest that sea-level change shifts the locus of carbonate deposition from the deep sea to the shelves as the normal glacial-interglacial pattern of deposition for Quaternary global carbonates. To assess the impact of these changes on atmospheric CO2, a simple numerical simulation of the global carbon cycle was developed. Atmospheric CO2 as well as calcite saturation depth and sediment responses to these carbonate deposition changes are examined. Atmospheric CO2 changes close to those observed in the Vostok ice core, approximately 80 ppm CO2, for the Quaternary are observed as well as the approximate depth changes in percent carbonate of sediments measured in the Pacific Ocean over the same time interval.
Carbon isotopes through 6km of fully cored drill holes in 1.7 to 1.5 Ga carbonates of the Mount Isa and McArthur basins, Australia (which host the earliest known eukaryote biomarkers) provide the most comprehensive and best-dated delta 13C stratigraphy yet obtained from such ancient rocks. Both basins reveal remarkably stable temporal delta 13C trends (mean of -0.6% +/- 2% PDB [Peedee belemnite]) and confirm the impression of delta 13C stasis between 2.0 and 1.0 Ga, which, together with other evidence, suggest a prolonged period of stability in crustal dynamics, redox state of surface environments, and planetary climate. This delta 13C stasis is consistent with great stability in the carbon cycle controlled, we suggest, by P limitation of primary productivity. Recent evidence shows that P depletion is a major factor in obligate associations between photosymbionts and host cells. We argue that a billion years of stability in the carbon and nutrient cycles may have been the driving force that propelled prokaryotes toward photosymbiosis and the emergence of the autotrophic eukaryote cell.
The hypothesis of Cretaceous-Tertiary (K-T) boundary impact on Yucatán, Mexico, predicts that nearby sites should show evidence of proximal impact ejecta and disturbance by giant waves. An outcrop along the Arroyo el Mimbral in northeastern Mexico contains a layered clastic unit up to 3 m thick that interrupts a biostratigraphically complete pelagic-marl sequence deposited at more than 400 m water depth. The marls were found to be unsuitable for determining magnetostratigraphy, but foraminiferal biostratigraphy places the clastic unit precisely at the K-T boundary. We interpret this clastic unit as the deposit of a megawave or tsunami produced by an extraterrestrial impact. The clastic unit comprises three main subunits. (1) The basal "spherule bed" contains glass in the form of tektites and microtektites, glass spherules replaced by chlorite-smectite and calcite, and quartz grains showing probable shock features. This bed is interpreted as a channelized deposit of proximal ejecta. (2) A set of lenticular, massive, graded "laminated beds" contains intraclasts and abundant plant debris, and may be the result of megawave backwash that carried coarse debris from shallow parts of the continental margin into deeper water. (3) At the top, several thin "ripple beds" composed of fine sand are separated by clay drapes; they are interpreted as deposits of oscillating currents, perhaps a seiche. An iridium anomaly (921 +/- 23 pg/g) is observed at the top of the ripple beds. Our observations at the Mimbral locality support the hypothesis of a K-T impact on nearby Yucatán.
Recent advances in Proterozoic micropaleontology and sedimentary isotope geochemistry suggest that improved interbasinal correlation of Neoproterozoic (1000-540 Ma) successions is possible. Because widely varying interpretations of its age have been suggested and no reliable radiometric dates or paleomagnetic data are available, the upper Tindir Group of northwestern Canada provides an opportunity to test this hypothesis. The age of these strata is of paleontological importance because silicified carbonates near the top of the group contain disc-shaped-scale microfossils that may provide insights into the early evolution of biomineralization. A reinterpretation of upper Tindir microfossil assemblages suggests a late Riphean age. Although diagenesis and contact metamorphism have altered the isotopic compositions of some carbonates, least altered samples indicate that delta 13C of contemporaneous seawater was at least +4.7%, typical of Neoproterozoic, but not Cambrian, carbonates. Strontium isotopic compositions of the least altered samples yield values of approximately 0.7065, which can be uniquely correlated with late Riphean seawater. Together, micropaleontology and the isotopic tracers of C and Sr constrain the upper Tindir carbonates and their unique fossils to be late Riphean, likely between 620 and 780 Ma.
High-resolution carbon isotope records in benthic foraminifera at Ocean Drilling Program (ODP) Site 690 on Maud Rise in South Atlantic (Kennett and Stott, 1991), and Site 865 on Allison Guyot in Equatorial Pacific (Bralower et al., 1995). Both records have been placed on common depth scale; 0.0 m placed at δ 13 C minimum. Entire δ 13 C excursion (rapid decrease and return to near initial values) occurs within 2 m at both sites. This stratigraphy constrains duration of excursion to within 2 × 10 5 yr (Kennett and Stott, 1991; Bralower et al., 1995). 
Effect of releasing 1.12 × 10 18 g of CH 4 with δ 13 C of-60‰ over 10 4 yr on δ 13 C value of present-day preindustrial carbon reservoirs. A: Assumed release of CH 4 at average rate of 1.12 × 10 14 g of CH 4 /yr over 10 4 yr. B: Response of δ 13 C in deep water of Atlantic, Indian, and Pacific Oceans. Initial values are 0.996‰, 0.620‰, and-0.508‰, respectively. C: Response of δ 13 C in warm surface water, cold surface water, and atmosphere (shifted by +8‰). Initial values are 2.577‰, 1.355‰, and-6.367‰, respectively. 
Response of present-day lysocline depths in Atlantic, Indian, and Pacific Oceans to CH 4 release shown in Figure 2A. Dashed curves show response without dissolution of previously deposited CaCO 3. Solid curves show response when CaCO 3 in upper 30 cm of sediment is dissolved upon addition of CH 4 and introduction of newly corrosive water (Walker and Kasting, 1992). Initial values are 4.14, 3.73, and 3.09 km, respectively.Time scale is logarithmic.
Response of present-day atmospheric pCO 2 and global average surface temperature to CH 4 release shown in Figure 2A. Dashed curves show response without dissolution of previously deposited CaCO 3. Solid curves show response when CaCO 3 in upper 30 cm of sediment is dissolved upon addition of CH 4 and introduction of newly corrosive water (Walker and Kasting, 1992). Initial values are 279.25 ppmv and 14.84 °C, respectively. Time scale is logarithmic.
Carbonate and organic matter deposited during the latest Paleocene thermal maximum is characterized by a remarkable -2.5% excursion in delta 13C that occurred over approximately 10(4) yr and returned to near initial values in an exponential pattern over approximately 2 x 10(5) yr. It has been hypothesized that this excursion signifies transfer of 1.4 to 2.8 x 10(18) g of CH4 from oceanic hydrates to the combined ocean-atmosphere inorganic carbon reservoir. A scenario with 1.12 x 10(18) g of CH4 is numerically simulated here within the framework of the present-day global carbon cycle to test the plausibility of the hypothesis. We find that (1) the delta 13C of the deep ocean, shallow ocean, and atmosphere decreases by -2.3% over 10(4) yr and returns to initial values in an exponential pattern over approximately 2 x 10(5) yr; (2) the depth of the lysocline shoals by up to 400 m over 10(4) yr, and this rise is most pronounced in one ocean region; and (3) global surface temperature increases by approximately 2 degrees C over 10(4) yr and returns to initial values over approximately 2 x 10(6) yr. The first effect is quantitatively consistent with the geologic record; the latter two effects are qualitatively consistent with observations. Thus, significant CH4 release from oceanic hydrates is a plausible explanation for observed carbon cycle perturbations during the thermal maximum. This conclusion is of broad interest because the flux of CH4 invoked during the maximum is of similar magnitude to that released to the atmosphere from present-day anthropogenic CH4 sources.
Carbon and oxygen stable isotopic compositions of lacustrine carbonate from a southeastern Michigan marl lake display linear covariance over a range of 4.0% Peedee belemnite (PDB) in oxygen and 3.9% (PDB) in carbon. Mechanisms of delta 13 C-delta 18 O coupling conventionally attributed to lake closure in arid-region basins are inapplicable to hydrologically open lake systems. Thus, an alternative explanation of isotopic covariance in temperate region dimictic marl lakes is required. We propose that isotopic covariance is a direct record of change in regional climate. In short-residence-time temperate-region lake basins, summer meteoric precipitation is enriched in 18O relative to winter values, and summer organic productivity enriches epilimnic dissolved inorganic carbon in 13C. Thus, climate change toward longer summers and/or shorter winters could result in greater proportions of warm-month meteoric precipitation, longer durations of warm-month productivity, and net long-term enrichment in carbonate 18O and 13C. Isotopic covariance observed in the Michigan marl lake cores is interpreted to reflect postglacial warming from 10 to 3 ka followed by cooler mean annual temperature, a shift toward greater proportions of seasonal summer precipitation, a shortening of the winter season, or some combination of these three factors.
Ion microprobe measurements of carbon isotope ratios were made in 30 specimens representing six fossil genera of microorganisms petrified in stromatolitic chert from the approximately 850 Ma Bitter Springs Formation, Australia, and the approximately 2100 Ma Gunflint Formation, Canada. The delta 13C(PDB) values from individual microfossils of the Bitter Springs Formation ranged from -21.3 +/- 1.7% to -31.9 +/- 1.2% and the delta 13C(PDB) values from microfossils of the Gunflint Formation ranged from -32.4 +/- 0.7% to -45.4 +/- 1.2%. With the exception of two highly 13C-depleted Gunflint microfossils, the results generally yield values consistent with carbon fixation via either the Calvin cycle or the acetyl-CoA pathway. However, the isotopic results are not consistent with the degree of fractionation expected from either the 3-hydroxypropionate cycle or the reductive tricarboxylic acid cycle, suggesting that the microfossils studied did not use either of these pathways for carbon fixation. The morphologies of the microfossils suggest an affinity to the cyanobacteria, and our carbon isotopic data are consistent with this assignment.
A carbonate-silicate geochemical cycle model is developed and used to explore dynamic and climatic consequences of constraints on shallow-water carbonate burial and possible carbon loss to the mantle associated with sea-floor subduction. The model partitions carbonate deposition between shallow-water and deep-water environments and includes carbon fluxes between the mantle and lithosphere. When total lithospheric carbonate mass is constant, there are two stable steady states, one in which the carbonate burial flux is mostly continental and another in which it is mostly pelagic. The continental steady state is characterized by a low metamorphic CO2 flux to the atmosphere and predominantly shallow-water carbonate burial. The pelagic steady state is characterized by a high metamorphic CO2 flux and predominantly deep-water carbonate burial. For reasonable parameter values, when total lithospheric carbonate mass is allowed to vary, the model oscillates between predominantly continental and predominantly pelagic modes. Model results suggest that carbonate deposition patterns established during the Cenozoic may be pushing the Earth system from the continental to the pelagic mode on a time scale of 10(8) yr, with a possible consequent order-of-magnitude increase in the metamorphic CO2 flux to the atmosphere.
Analyses of geomorphic, soil, and topographic data from the northern Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico, confirm that the buried Chicxulub impact crater has a distinct surface expression and that carbonate sedimentation throughout the Cenozoic has been influenced by the crater. Late Tertiary sedimentation was mostly restricted to the region within the buried crater, and a semicircular moat existed until at least Pliocene time. The topographic expression of the crater is a series of features concentric with the crater. The most prominent is an approximately 83-km-radius trough or moat containing sinkholes (the Cenote ring). Early Tertiary surfaces rise abruptly outside the moat and form a stepped topography with an outer trough and ridge crest at radii of approximately 103 and approximately 129 km, respectively. Two discontinuous troughs lie within the moat at radii of approximately 41 and approximately 62 km. The low ridge between the inner troughs corresponds to the buried peak ring. The moat corresponds to the outer edge of the crater floor demarcated by a major ring fault. The outer trough and the approximately 62-km-radius inner trough also mark buried ring faults. The ridge crest corresponds to the topographic rim of the crater as modified by postimpact processes. These interpretations support previous findings that the principal impact basin has a diameter of approximately 180 km, but concentric, low-relief slumping extends well beyond this diameter and the eroded crater rim may extend to a diameter of approximately 260 km.
Silicified carbonates of the late Mesoproterozoic to early Neoproterozoic Society Cliffs Formation, Baffin Island, contain distinctive microfabrics and microbenthic assemblages whose paleo-environmental distribution within the formation parallels the distribution of these elements through Proterozoic time. In the Society Cliffs Formation, restricted carbonates--including microdigitate stromatolites, laminated tufa, and tufted microbial mats--consist predominantly of synsedimentary cements; these facies and the cyanobacterial fossils they contain are common in Paleoproterozoic successions but rare in Neoproterozoic and younger rocks. Less restricted tidal-flat facies in the formation are composed of laminated microbialites dominated by micritic carbonate lithified early, yet demonstrably after compaction; these strata contain cyanobacteria that are characteristic in Neoproterozoic rocks. Within the formation, the facies-dependent distribution of microbial populations reflects both the style and timing of carbonate deposition because of the strong substrate specificity of benthic cyanobacteria. A reasonable conclusion is that secular changes in microbenthic assemblages through Proterozoic time reflect a decrease in the overall representation of rapidly lithified carbonate substrates in younger peritidal environments, as well as concomitant changes in the taphonomic window of silicification through which early life is observed.
The occurrence of an unconformity beneath Tommotian rocks in southeastern Siberia is not controversial. Landing implies that we presented this observation as new, but as one of us (Semikhatov and Serebryakov, 1983) first documented this feature more than a decade ago, we would hardly make such a claim; four references to previous research (two by Landing) attend its first mention in our text. Interpretation of the unconformity is more contentious, and Landing has, indeed, swum against the current for years in asserting that the hiatus beneath the Tommotian stratotype lasted a long time. We regret that in trimming our paper to meet the page limits of Geology we omitted reference to this view. Assertion, however, is one thing; demonstration is another.
Reflectance spectroscopy in the visible and near-infrared (0.35-2.55 micrometers) offers a rapid, inexpensive, nondestructive tool for determining the mineralogy and for investigating the minor-element chemistry of the hard-to-discriminate carbonate minerals. This technique is also very sensitive to the presence of water and indicates that aqueous fluid inclusions are nearly ubiquitous in carbonate minerals and rocks. Spectra indicate that inclusions are lost during diagenesis of skeletal material, providing a new criterion for diagenetic studies.-from Author
Because most large-magnitude earthquakes along reverse faults have such irregular and complicated rupture patterns, reverse-fault segments defined on the basis of geometry alone may not be very useful for estimating sizes of future seismic sources. Most modern large ruptures of historical earthquakes generated by intracontinental reverse faults have involved geometrically complex rupture patterns. Ruptures across surficial discontinuities and complexities such as stepovers and cross-faults are common. Specifically, segment boundaries defined on the basis of discontinuities in surficial fault traces, pronounced changes in the geomorphology along strike, or the intersection of active faults commonly have not proven to be major impediments to rupture. Assuming that the seismic rupture will initiate and terminate at adjacent major geometric irregularities will commonly lead to underestimation of magnitudes of future large earthquakes.
Diabasic sills from the 1.27by old Carrizo Mountain Group of W Texas have immobile element abundances similar to those of modern mid-ocean ridge basalts (MORB). The presence of thick terrigenous sedimentary rocks and peraluminous rhyolitic ash-flow tuffs within the Carrizo Mountain Group preclude the diabases forming in a typical MORB environment. Field, petrographic, and geochemical evidence suggests that the Carrizo Mountain Group was depositied in an incipient continental margin back-arc basin that may have extended NE into the Texas panhandle region. The overlying Allamoore Formation consists of sedimentary rocks and basalt accumulated within a mature marginal basin behind the tholeiite-dominanted island arc postulated for the Llano area.-AuthorLunar & Planetary Inst, 3303 NASA Rd One, Houston, TX 77058, USA.
The importance of hypervelocity impacts as a geologic process is demonstrated by the example of the Bushveld Complex and the (nearby) Vredefort Ring. Each is interpreted as the result of four simultaneous impacts modified by large-scale endogenic processes triggered by the impact event. The layered mafic sequence and the voluminous red granite associated with the complex are endogenic magmas, probably generated by pressure release accompanying crater excavation. Shock melting of older sedimentary rocks must have produced a layer of impact melt (the Rooiberg Felsite), the upper part of which was extruded over its originally chilled crust as a series of thick lava flows. Field evidence and radiometric age determinations indicate that the Bushveld Complex formed approximately 2000 billion years ago.
Time development of ammonium and nitrate ions in two samples taken at YD 
We find agreement between models of atmospheric chemistry changes from ionization for the 1908 Tunguska airburst event and nitrate enhancement in GISP2H and GISP2 ice cores, plus an unexplained ammonium spike. We then consider a candidate cometary impact at the Younger Dryas onset (YD). The large estimated NO_x production and O_3 depletion are beyond accurate extrapolation, but the ice core peak is much lower, possibly because of insufficient sampling resolution. Ammonium and nitrate spikes have been attributed to biomass burning at YD onset in both GRIP and GISP2 ice cores. A similar result is well-resolved in Tunguska ice core data, but that forest fire was far too small to account for this. Direct input of ammonia from a comet into the atmosphere is adequate for YD ice core data, but not Tunguska data. An analog of the Haber process with hydrogen contributed by cometary or surface water, atmospheric nitrogen, high pressures, and possibly catalytic iron from a comet could in principle produce ammonia, accounting for the peaks in both data sets. Comment: As published in Geology. Article selected as "Research Focus" of the April 2010 issue.
Six channels of multispectral middle infrared (8 to 14 micron) aircraft scanner data were acquired over the East Tintic mining district, Utah. This area has high relief and moderate vegetation and consists mainly of Tertiary silicic igneous rocks and Paleozoic quartzite and carbonate rocks that have been locally hydrothermally altered. These digital-image data were computer processed to create a color-composite image based on principal component transformations. Color differences in this image are related to the spectral differences in the surface material and allow discrimination of several rock types, depending primarily on their silica content. When combined with a visible and near infrared color-composite image from a previous flight, with limited field checking, it is possible to discriminate quartzite, carbonate rocks, quartz latitic and quartz monzonitic rocks, latitic and monzonitic rocks, silicified altered rocks, argillized altered rocks, and vegetation.
A model is presented accounting for many features of the Altiplano-Puna volcanic complex situated in the Central Volcanic Zone of the Andes which contains 50 recently active volcanoes. The dominant elements of the complex are several large nested caldera complexes which are the source structures for the major regionally distributed ignimbrite sheets that characterize the complex. The study of the complex reveals the importance of the intersection of subsidiary axis-oblique tectonic trends related to regional stress fields peculiar to individual oceanic ridge sections with the axis-parallel trends predominant at all spreading centers in localizing hydrothermal discharge zones.
The Anadarko Basin of western Oklahoma is a WNW-ESE elongated trough filled with of Paleozoic sediments. Most models call for tectonic activity to end in Pennsylvanian times. NASA Shuttle Imaging Radar revealed a distinctive and very straight lineament set extending virtually the entire length of the Anadarko Basin. The lineaments cut across the relatively flat-lying Permian units exposed at the surface. The character of these lineaments is seen most obviously as a tonal variation. Major streams, including the Washita and Little Washita rivers, appear to be controlled by the location of the lineaments. Subsurface data indicate the lineaments may be the updip expression of a buried major fault system, the Mountain View fault. Two principal conclusions arise from this analysis: (1) the complex Mountain View Fault system appears to extend southeast to join the Reagan, Sulphur, and/or Mill Creek faults of the Arbuckle Mountains, and (2) this fault system has been reactivated in Permian or younger times.
Los Angeles is a new martian meteorite that expands the compositional range of basaltic shergottites. Compared to Shergotty, Zagami, QUE94201, and EET79001-B, Los Angeles is more differentiated, with higher concentrations of incompatible elements (e.g., La) and a higher abundance of late-stage phases such as phosphates and K-rich feldspathic glass. The pyroxene crystallization trend starts at compositions more ferroan than in other martian basaits. Trace elements indicate a greater similarity to Shergotty and Zagami than to QUE94201 or EET79001-B, but the Mg/Fe ratio is low even compared to postulated parent melts of Shergotty and Zagami. Pyroxene in Los Angeles has 0.7-4-microns-thick exsolution lamellae, approx. 10 times thicker than those in Shergotty and Zaganii. Opaque oxide compositions suggest a low equilibration temperature at an oxygen fugacity near the fayafite-magnetitequartz buffer. Los Angeles cooled more slowly than Shergotty and Zagami. Slow cooling, coupled with the ferroan bulk composition, produced abundant fine-grained intergrowths of fayalite, hedenbergite, and silica, by the breakdown of pyroxferroite. Shock effects in Los Angeles include maskelynitized plagioclase, pyroxene with mosaic extinction, and rare fault zones. One such fault ruptured a previously decomposed zone of pyroxferroite. Although highly differentiated, the bulk composition of Los Angeles is not close to the low-Ca/Si composition or the globally wind-stirred soil of Mars.
Recent studies of the oceanic lithosphere near fracture zones have resulted in the proposal that the 'magma budget', defined as the amount of magma delivered to magma chambers or conduits beneath a spreading center for a given amount of spreading, decreases as fracture zones are approached. Geochemical variations in basaltic glasses collected near fracture zones are consistent with a decrease in partial melting as fracture zones are approached, but they could also be produced by variations in open-system magmatic processes with no change in the extent of partial melting. Although a decrease in the magma budget as fracture zones are approached is consistent with these data, so are alternative models that incorporate a constant magma budget.
Ar-39 - Ar-40 analyses of three petrographically distinct, shocked Apollo 15 KREEP (i.e., high K, rare earth element, P, and other trace element contents) basalt samples demonstrate that a major impact event affected all three samples at about 2.1 Ga. The Copernican System craters Aristillus and Autolycus are to the north. Autolycus, the older of the two, is in a particularly appropriate terrain and is the most likely source of the 2.1 Ga heating and delivery event. With this calibration point, and if Autolycus really is a Copernican crater, the Copernican System lasted twice as long as has previously been suggested. Furthermore, the moon was not subjected to a constant cratering rate over the past 3 billion years; the average rate in the preceding Eratosthenian must have been twice that in the Copernican.
Between 10,000 and 500 yr ago the Socompa volcano in northern Chile experienced a catastrophic collapse of a 70 deg sector of the original cone, causing a debris avalanche that descended nearly 3000 m vertically and traveled more than 35 km from the volcano. The deposits cover some 490 sq km and have a minimum volume of 15 cu km. Parts of the original cone slumped in a nearly coherent form and are now preserved as large blocks more than 400 m high. The primary avalanche traveled northwestward over sloping ground before coming to rest transiently, forming a prominent marginal ridge, and then slid away northeastward to form a secondary flow, overriding much of the primary avalanche deposit. Abundant, prismatic, jointed dacite blocks within the debris avalanche deposit and a thin, fine-grained pumiceous deposit beneath it suggest that the collapse was triggered by magmatic activity and may have been accompanied by a violent lateral blast. Collapse was followed by eruption of pumiceous pyroclastic flows and extrusion of voluminous dacite domes.
Compositions and textures of melt rocks from the upper part of the Chicxulub structure are typical of melt rocks at other large terrestrial impact structures. Apart from variably elevated iridium concentrations (less than 1.5 to 13.5 +/- 0.9 ppb) indicating nonuniform dissemination of a meteoritic component, bulk rock and phenocryst compositions imply that these melt rocks were derived exclusively from continental crust and platform-sediment target lithologies. Modest differences in bulk chemistry among samples from wells located approximately 40 km apart suggest minor variations in relative contributions of these target lithologies to the melts. Subtle variations in the compositions of early-formed pyroxene and plagioclase also support minor primary differences in chemistry between the melts. Evidence for pervasive hydrothermal alteration of the porous mesostasis includes albite, K-feldspar, quartz, epidote, chlorite, and other phyllosilicates, as well as siderophile element-enriched sulfides, suggesting the possibility that Chicxulub, like Sudbury, may host important ore deposits.
Reports of shock-deformed phenocrysts from the Toba ignimbrite deposits, Sumatra, have prompted considerable debate over whether shock-deformation products are clear evidence of a meteorite impact origin for the K/T boundary deposits as well as terresrial 'cryptoexplosion' structures. Evidence presented in favor of volcanically induced shock at Toba includes kinked biotites and rare occurrences of single set of lamellae in quartz grains but rests most heavily upon occurrences of mosaic extinction patterns in plagioclase phenocrysts. The present analysis of several of the same Toba samples reveals that these mosaic patterns ae related to distinct compositional zoning and cannot be attributed to deformation of the crystal lattice that shock would produce. Additionally, in more than 200 quartz grains examined, no occurrences of microdeformation features or mosaic textures similar to those associated with known impact structures and the K/T boundary are detected. It is concluded that evidence of shock deformation in the Toba deposits has not been demonstrated.
Igneous dikes buried beneath as much as 2 m of alluvium in the Mojave Desert of California were detected by the Seasat L-band (23.5-cm wavelength) synthetic-aperture radar (SAR) in 1978. The roughness and dihedral configuration of the dikes are favorable to generation of strong radar echos. The soil-moisture levels in 1978 were likely below the critical 1 percent level. The other permissive conditions for radar penetration of a fine-grained and thin alluvial cover are present. Our findings suggest that subsurface features with potential tectonic or geomorphic significance may be revealed in other orbital radar images of semiarid terrains.
The Slate Islands in northern Lake Superior represent the eroded remains of a complex impact crater, originally approximately 32 km in diameter. New field studies there reveal allogenic crater fill deposits along the eastern and northern portions of the islands indicating that this 500-800 Ma impact structure is not as heavily eroded as previously thought. Near the crater center, on the western side or Patterson Island, massive blocks of target rocks, enclosed within a matrix of fine-grained polymict breccia, record the extensive deformation associated with the central uplift. Shatter cones are a common structural feature on the islands and range from less than 3 cm to over 10 m in length. Although shatter cones are powerful tools for recognizing and analyzing eroded impact craters, their origin remains poorly constrained.
Rifts form in many different tectonic environments where the lithosphere is put into extension. An outline is provided of the distribution, orientation, and relative ages of 16 Cenozoic rifts along the northern edge of the Caribbean plate and it is suggested that these structures formed successively by localized extension as the Caribbean plate moved eastward past a continental promontory of North America. Evidence leading to this conclusion includes (1) recognition that the rifts become progressively younger westward; (2) a two-phase subsidence history in a rift exposed by upthrusting in Jamaica; (3) the absence of rifts east of Jamaica; and (4) the observation that removal of 1400 km of strike-slip displacement on the Cayman Trough fault system places the Paleogene rifts of Jamaica in an active area of extension south of Yucatan where the rifts of Honduras and Guatemala are forming today.
The appearance of many streamlike features on Mars indicates the formation of channels through erosion by liquid water. We suggest that streams originating at meteorite crater boundaries are the result of impact which released subsurface water trapped below the Martian surface by a layer of permafrost. Features indicating surface erosion are the presence of alluvial plains at the downstream ends of channels, an increase in stream width with distance from the meteorite craters, and a direct correlation among several examples between crater diameter and stream length. Water released from the subsurface is preferred over rainfall as a mechanism for the origin of stream channels originating from craters on Mars.
The Landsat Thematic Mapper (TM) offers a means of detecting and monitoring thermal features of active volcanoes. Using the TM, a prominent thermal anomaly has been discovered on Lascar volcano, northern Chile. Data from two short-wavelength infrared channels of the TM show that material within a 300-m-diameter pit crater was at a temperature of at least 380 C on two dates in 1985. The thermal anomaly closely resembles in size and radiant temperature the anomaly over the active lava lake at Erta'ale in Ethiopia. An eruption took place at Lascar on Sept. 16, 1986. TM data acquired on Oct. 27, 1986, revealed significant changes within the crater area. Lascar is in a much more active state than any other volcano in the central Andes, and for this reason it merits further careful monitoring. Studies show that the TM is capable of confidently identifying thermal anomalies less than 100 m in size, at temperatures of above 150 C, and thus it offers a valuable means of monitoring the conditions of active or potentially active volcanoes, particularly those in remote regions.
A study of paleomagnetic data from Miocene volcanic rocks in the western Mojave Desert, which suggests about 25 deg of clockwise rotation, is presented. A total of 166 oriented core samples of two types of basalt were taken from 19 sites in the region. After demagnetization to 40 or 60 mT, application of structural corrections, and inversion of reversed sites, the data yielded an average direction of 51.6 deg inclination and 15.6 deg declination. When compared with the expected direction for Miocene rocks for stable North America, the direction for these Mojave rocks shows a clockwise rotation of 23.8 deg + or - 11.3 deg and a flattening of about 2.1 deg, a rotation which agrees in direction with oroclinal bending of the southern Sierra Nevada due to right-lateral shear along the western margin of North America. Most of this rotation is constrained by other paleomagnetic and strucural information to have occurred soon after the sampled basalts were deposited (about 20 Ma) and before about 16 Ma. These clockwise declination anomalies indicate that any subsequent counterclockwise rotation is small and/or compensated by previous clockwise rotation.
Bedding orientation measurements from six locations around margin of Gale Crater mound (Mars). Individual measurements from HiRISE terrain models are marked in red, with average at each site indicated by dip symbol. Table DR1 (see footnote 1) provides a full listing of results. At each location, beds consistently dip away from center of mound, consistent with proposed model. Background elevation data is from the High-Resolution Stereo Camera (HRSC;, with geologic boundaries from Thomson et al. (2011). Star marks Mars Science Laboratory's landing site.
Ancient sediments provide archives of climate and habitability on Mars. Gale Crater, the landing site for the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL), hosts a 5 km high sedimentary mound. Hypotheses for mound formation include evaporitic, lacustrine, fluviodeltaic, and aeolian processes, but the origin and original extent of Gale's mound is unknown. Here we show new measurements of sedimentary strata within the mound that indicate ~3 degree outward dips oriented radially away from the mound center, inconsistent with the first three hypotheses. Moreover, although mounds are widely considered to be erosional remnants of a once crater-filling unit, we find that the Gale mound's current form is close to its maximal extent. Instead we propose that the mound's structure, stratigraphy, and current shape can be explained by growth in place near the center of the crater mediated by wind-topography feedbacks. Our model shows how sediment can initially accrete near the crater center far from crater-wall katabatic winds, until the increasing relief of the resulting mound generates mound-flank slope-winds strong enough to erode the mound. Our results indicate mound formation by airfall-dominated deposition with a limited role for lacustrine and fluvial activity, and potentially limited organic carbon preservation. Morphodynamic feedbacks between wind and topography are widely applicable to a range of sedimentary mounds and ice mounds across the Martian surface, and possibly other planets.
Anorthitic plagioclase floats in liquids parental to the lunar highlands crust. The plagioclase enrichment that is characteristic of lunar highlands rocks can be the result of plagioclase flotation. Such rocks would form a gravitationally stable upper crust on their parental magma.
Top-cited authors
Zheng-Xiang Li
  • Curtin University
P. Tapponnier
  • Nanyang Technological University
Sun-Lin Chung
  • National Taiwan University
Rolando Armijo
  • Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris
R. Finkel
  • University of California, Berkeley