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Excerpts from the  January 20th, 2017 issue

Conodonts in Silurian hypersaline environments: Specialized and unexpectedly diverse

Hypersaline environments are commonly assumed to be barren of metazoans and therefore are avoided by paleontologists, yet a number of early Paleozoic jawless vertebrate groups specialized to live in such settings. Sampling bias against restricted settings resulted in substantial underestimation of their diversity. Rare studies venturing into such environments yielded multiple new species of conodonts, suggesting that the diversity and habitat range of these hyperdiverse predators of the early oceans are equally underestimated. We describe here autochthonous conodont fauna from evaporite-bearing horizons from the middle Silurian of Estonia that provide evidence for efficient osmoregulation in this group. Based on a global compilation of coeval conodont assemblages, we show that marginal-marine, periodically emergent environments were characterized by higher conodont diversity than open-marine shallow settings. This diversity is due to a high number of species occurring in these environments only. The high degree of specialization is also reflected by the highest within-habitat variability (β diversity) in marginal settings. Most conodont species had narrow environmental niches and, unlike in marine invertebrates, extreme environments were inhabited by the most specialized taxa. Such environments represent a large proportion of early Paleozoic tropical epicratonic basins. Our analysis allows quantification of the degree to which mid-Silurian conodont diversity is underestimated as a result of sampling bias against marginal-marine settings.

Fluidized-sediment pipes in Gale crater, Mars, and possible Earth analogs

Since landing in Gale crater, the Mars Science Laboratory rover Curiosity has traversed fluvial, lacustrine, and eolian sedimentary rocks that were deposited within the crater ~3.6 to 3.2 b.y. ago. Here we describe structures interpreted to be pipes formed by vertical movement of fluidized sediment. Like many pipes on Earth, those in Gale crater are more resistant to erosion than the host rock; they form near other pipes, dikes, or deformed sediment; and some contain internal concentric or eccentric layering. These structures provide new evidence of the importance of subsurface aqueous processes in shaping the near-surface geology of Mars.

Constraining the time scales of magmatic differentiation with U-Pb zircon geochronology

Quantifying the time scales of magmatic differentiation is critical for understanding the rate at which silicic plutonic and volcanic rocks form. Directly dating this process is difficult because locations with both clear evidence for fractional crystallization and the accessory phases necessary for radiometric dating are rare. Early zircon saturation, however, appears to be characteristic of many high-K, arc-related melts due to their generally elevated initial Zr concentrations. Thus, high-K plutonic series are ideal candidates to study the time scales of magmatic differentiation using zircon U-Pb geochronology. This study focuses on the Dariv Igneous Complex in western Mongolia where early saturation of zircon in a suite of cogenetic, upper crustal (<0.5 GPa) igneous rocks ranging from ultramafic cumulates to evolved granitoids allows us to date magmatic differentiation. Crystallization ages from six samples across the sequence indicate that magmatic fractionation from a basalt to high-silica (>65 wt% SiO2) melt occurred in ≤590 ± 350 k.y. This estimate is greater than modeled time scales of conductive cooling of a single intrusion and physical segregation of minerals from a melt, suggesting that continued influx of heat through magmatic activity in the complex may have prolonged cooling and thus time scales associated with the production of silica-enriched melts.

Reconstructing the end of the Appalachian orogeny

In contrast to crustal deformation observed in the actively forming Himalayas, where shallowly dipping crustal detachments extend over hundreds of kilometers, prior work on the Paleozoic southern Appalachian orogeny inferred that the final continental collision occurred on a steeply dipping crustal suture, permitting collision models that are dominated by strike-slip motion. Here, we use scattered seismic phases to instead reveal the Appalachian (Alleghanian) crustal suture as a low-angle (<~15°) southward-dipping interface that soles into a flat-lying mid-crustal detachment. The observed suture geometry implies more than 300 km of head-on shortening across a plate boundary structure similar to the Himalayan mid-crustal detachment, indicating that this mode of deformation has been fundamental in continental collisions over hundreds of millions of years.

Biomineralization and global change: A new perspective for understanding the end-Permian extinction

We investigated the kill mechanisms of the end-Permian mass extinction by analyzing patterns in biomineralization of marine invertebrates. The microstructures of Upper Permian brachiopod organocarbonate shells show the demise of the production of fabrics with a columnar layer—which has less organic matrix—in favor of more organic-rich shells at the end of Permian. Also, in the 100–120 k.y. interval prior to the Permian-Triassic boundary (PTB), the Rhynchonellata had small calcite structural units (fibers) and thus a higher shell organic content, whereas the Strophomenata were not able to produce smaller units. This suggests that the two classes had a different capacity to cope with environmental change, with the Rhynchonellata being more able to buffer against pH changes and surviving the PTB, whereas the Strophomenata became extinct. The observed trends in biomineralization are similar to the patterns in extant marine invertebrates exposed to increasing pCO2 and decreasing pH, indicating that ocean acidification could have been one of the kill mechanisms of the mass extinction at the PTB.

Delayed maximum northern European summer temperatures during the Last Interglacial as a result of Greenland Ice Sheet melt

Here we report a new quantitative mean July temperature reconstruction using non-biting midges (chironomids) from the Danish Last Interglacial (LIG) site Hollerup (spanning 127–116 ka). We find that peak mean July temperatures of 17.5 °C, similar to those of the present day (1961–1990 CE), were reached shortly before the onset of the regional Carpinus pollen zone. Through comparison to terrestrial and marine sequences we demonstrate that peak summer warmth took place some three millennia after the onset of LIG warming in Europe, a marked delay in line with records from the North Atlantic. Crucially, the warmest northern European summer temperatures appear to follow maximum Greenland Ice Sheet mass loss, implying that meltwater substantially reduced Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation and depressed European temperatures during the early part of the interglacial.

Demise of Ediacaran dolomitic seas marks widespread biomineralization on the Siberian Platform

The trigger for biomineralization of metazoans in the terminal Ediacaran, ca. 550 Ma, has been suggested to be the rise of oxygenation or an increase in seawater Ca concentration, but geochemical and fossil data have not been fully integrated to demonstrate cause and effect. Here we combine the record of macrofossils with early marine carbonate cement distribution within a relative depth framework for terminal Ediacaran to Cambrian successions on the eastern Siberian Platform, Russia, to interrogate the evolution of seawater chemistry and biotic response. Prior to ca. 545 Ma, the presence of early marine ferroan dolomite cement suggests dominantly ferruginous anoxic "aragonite-dolomite seas", with a very shallow oxic chemocline that supported mainly soft-bodied macrobiota. After ca. 545 Ma, marine cements changed to aragonite and/or high-Mg calcite, and this coincides with the appearance of widespread aragonite and high-Mg calcite skeletal metazoans, suggesting a profound change in seawater chemistry to "aragonite seas" with a deeper chemocline. By early Cambrian Stage 3, the first marine low-Mg calcite cements appear, coincident with the first low-Mg calcite metazoan skeletons, suggesting a further shift to "calcite seas". We suggest that this evolution of seawater chemistry was caused by enhanced continental denudation that increased the input of Ca into oceans so progressively lowering Mg/Ca, which, combined with more widespread oxic conditions, facilitated the rise of skeletal animals and in turn influenced the evolution of skeletal mineralogy.

A diamictite dichotomy: Glacial conveyor belts and olistostromes in the Neoproterozoic of Death Valley, California, USA

Multiple intercalations of glacially derived and slope-derived diamictites testify to the drawbacks of correlating Neoproterozoic diamictites more widely, but shed new light on the close interrelationship of these processes in the Cryogenian world. In the Neoproterozoic of Death Valley, California (USA), rifting of Rodinia occurred concomitantly with a major glacial event that deposited the Kingston Peak Formation. A new sedimentologic investigation of this formation in the Silurian Hills demonstrates, for the first time, that some diamictites are ultimately of glacial origin. Abundant dropstone textures occur in interstratified heterolithic deposits, with clasts of identical composition (gneiss, schist, granite, metabasite, quartzite) to those of boulder-bearing diamictites suggesting a common source (the glacial conveyor belt). In stark contrast, megaclast-bearing diamictites, yielding clasts of carbonate and siliciclastic preglacial strata as much as 100 m across, are interpreted as olistostromes. The occurrence of syn-sedimentary faults within the succession allows glacial versus slope-derived material to be distinguished for the first time.

The role of buoyancy reversal in turbidite deposition and submarine fan geometry

Although recent work has shown that changing interstitial fluid density within turbidity currents is a frequently overlooked factor affecting the texture and internal architecture of turbidites, little is known about its influence on submarine fan morphology. Here we present the results of three-dimensional flume experiments of turbidity currents that clearly demonstrate the role of low-density interstitial fluid, in combination with sediment concentration and basin gradient, on submarine fan geometry. The experiments show that turbidity currents with reversing buoyancy, and their resulting deposits, are narrower than those that remain ground hugging. Furthermore, wider deposits result from increases in sediment concentration and/or basin-floor gradient. We also propose that Taylor-Görtler vortices associated with currents traveling over a break in slope may lead to the deposition of wider lobes compared with those traveling over a constant gradient.

Contrasting geochemical signatures of fluid-absent versus fluid-fluxed melting of muscovite in metasedimentary sources: The Himalayan leucogranites

Most of the Himalayan Cenozoic leucogranites are products of partial melting of metapelite sources. In the Malashan-Gyirong area (southern Tibet), the geochemical compositions of leucogranites define two groups with distinct whole-rock major elements, large ion lithophile elements, rare earth elements, high field strength elements, and Sr and Hf isotope ratios. Based on published experimental results that define generalized melting reactions of metapelitic sources, we infer that these leucogranites are the products of two different types of crustal anatexis: fluid-fluxed melting and fluid-absent melting of muscovite in metasedimentary sources. As compared to the leucogranites derived from fluid-absent melting, those from fluid-fluxed melting have relatively higher Ca, Sr, Ba, Zr, Hf, Th, and light rare earth element concentrations, and Zr/Hf, Eu/Eu*, and Nd/Nd*, but lower Rb, Nb, Ta, and U concentrations, Rb/Sr and 87Sr/86Sr ratios, and Hf(t). The geochemical differences can be explained by melting behaviors of major (muscovite, feldspar) and accessory minerals (zircon and monazite) during different modes of crustal anatexis. The systematic elemental and isotopic signatures of different types of crustal anatexis and, in particular, the coupling of major and trace elements that results from common influences on rock-forming and accessory mineral behaviors provide tools with which to refine our understanding of the nature of crustal anatexis.

40Ar/39Ar dating and thermal modeling of adularia to constrain the timing of hydrothermal activity in magmatic settings

Hydrothermal systems develop via interspersed thermal events over tens to hundreds of thousands of years. The timing of how these systems evolve is commonly established via application of geochronology to a variety of phases and/or the indirect correlation of dated stratigraphy. Here we report 40Ar/39Ar results from adularia extracted from a single mineralized fracture in the late Quaternary Tauhara geothermal system of New Zealand. By utilizing both the age and Ar diffusion properties, we demonstrate how adularia can provide reliable temporal and thermal constraints on the evolution of geologically youthful and active geothermal systems. Our results indicate that adularia formation occurred after 30 ka (mean age 15 ± 10 ka), possibly resulting from subsurface fracturing induced by a 25.4 ka hydrothermal eruption. Simulation of transient heat effects upon Ar retention in adularia with respect to the thermal history of the Tauhara geothermal system confirm that this age is consistent with the time of adularia crystallization. Overall, 40Ar/39Ar dating on geologically young hydrothermal adularia with respect to its thermal history may be used to assess the timing and potential events (e.g., eruptions and fracturing) related to hydrothermal system evolution.

Causes of underpressure in natural CO2 reservoirs and implications for geological storage

Geological carbon storage has the potential to reduce anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions, if large volumes can be injected and securely retained. Storage capacity is limited by regional pressure buildup in the subsurface. However, natural CO2 reservoirs in the United States are commonly underpressured, suggesting that natural processes reduce the pressure buildup over time and increase storage security. To identify these processes, we studied Bravo Dome natural CO2 reservoir (New Mexico, USA), where the gas pressure is up to 6.4 MPa below the hydrostatic pressure, i.e., less than 30% of the expected pressure. Here, we show that the dissolution of CO2 into the brine reduces the pressure by 1.02 ± 0.08 MPa, because Bravo Dome is isolated from the ambient hydrologic system. This challenges the assumption that the successful long-term storage of CO2 is limited to open geological formations. We also show that the formation containing the reservoir was already 2.85 ± 2.02 MPa underpressured before CO2 emplacement. This is likely due to the overlying evaporite layer, which prevents recharge. Similar underpressured formations below regional evaporites are widespread in the midcontinent of the United States. This suggests the existence of significant storage capacities with properties similar to Bravo Dome, which has contained large volumes of CO2 over millennial time scales.

Ultrapotassic rocks and xenoliths from South Tibet: Contrasting styles of interaction between lithospheric mantle and asthenosphere during continental collision

Widespread Miocene (24–8 Ma) ultrapotassic rocks and their entrained xenoliths provide information on the composition, structure, and thermal state of the sub-continental lithospheric mantle in southern Tibet during the India-Asia continental collision. The ultrapotassic rocks along the Lhasa block delineate two distinct lithospheric domains with different histories of depletion and enrichment. The eastern ultrapotassic rocks (89°E–92°E) reveal a depleted, young, and fertile lithospheric mantle (87Sr/86Srt = 0.704–0.707 [t is eruption time]; Hf depleted-mantle model age [TDM] = 377–653 Ma). The western ultrapotassic rocks (79°E–89°E) and their peridotite xenoliths (81°E) reflect a refractory harzburgitic mantle refertilized by ancient metasomatism (lavas: 87Sr/86Srt = 0.714–0.734; peridotites: 87Sr/86Srt = 0.709–0.716). These data integrated with seismic tomography suggest that upwelling asthenosphere was diverted away from the deep continental root beneath the western Lhasa block, but rose to shallower depths beneath a thinner lithosphere in the eastern part. Heating of the lithospheric mantle by the rising asthenosphere ultimately generated the ultrapotassic rocks with regionally distinct geochemical signatures reflecting the different nature of the lithospheric mantle.

Isotopic signatures of mercury contamination in latest Permian oceans

Sedimentary records from the northwest margin of Pangea and the Tethys show anomalously high Hg levels at the latest Permian extinction boundary. Background 202Hg values are consistent with normal marine conditions but exhibit negative shifts coincident with increased Hg concentrations. Hg isotope mass-independent fractionation (199Hg) trends are consistent with volcanic input in deep-water marine environments. In contrast, nearshore environments have 199Hg signatures consistent with enhanced soil and/or biomass input. We hypothesize that the deep-water signature represents an overall global increase in volcanic Hg input and that this isotope signature is overwhelmed in nearshore locations due to Hg from terrestrial sources. High-productivity nearshore regions may have experienced stressed marine ecosystems due to enhanced Hg loading.

Climate-controlled shifts in sediment provenance inferred from detrital zircon ages, western Peruvian Andes

Provenance analysis of Pleistocene terrace deposits, together with modern sediments from the same streams, from four catchments draining the western margin of the Andes in Peru is used to infer changes in erosion patterns between the past and the present period by matching detrital zircon ages with crystallization ages of source rocks. Age populations suggest major changes in sediment provenance through the past 100 k.y. At present, sediment sources are mainly located along the steep middle reaches of the rivers, whereas during the Pleistocene, sources were additionally located in the low-relief headwaters of these catchments. These shifts in the loci of erosion are interpreted to reflect changes in precipitation patterns, where periods of stronger precipitation on the Altiplano allowed the entrainment of material from the low-relief plateau in the past. In contrast, modern precipitation patterns result in negligible erosion rates on the Altiplano, and the site of material entrainment shifts to the knickzone reaches where steeper slopes and higher stream power promote erosion. In that sense, this work illustrates that terrace aggradation is associated with major shifts in provenance sources.

Mercury enrichments in lower Aptian sediments support the link between Ontong Java large igneous province activity and oceanic anoxic episode 1a

The early Aptian recorded one of the most significant episodes of environmental change during the Mesozoic—the Selli oceanic anoxic episode (OAE 1a). It has often been suggested that magmatic activity related to the emplacement of the Greater Ontong Java large igneous province (LIP) triggered OAE 1a. A major challenge, however, resides in the establishment of precise temporal relationships between the environmental perturbations associated with OAE 1a and the phases of volcanic activity. In this study we evaluate the potential of mercury (Hg) as a proxy of volcanic activity and investigate lower Aptian sediments with different total organic carbon (TOC) contents, which are exposed at Roter Sattel (Brianconnais, Swiss Alps), Glaise (Vocontian Basin, southeast France), and La Bédoule (South Provencal Basin, southeast France). The intervals equivalent to OAE 1a are marked by significant increases in Hg contents, which are only partially dependent on TOC contents. This is shown by the Hg anomalies in the TOC-poor sediments of La Bédoule, the only moderate correlation of Hg and TOC contents in the TOC-enriched sediments of Roter Sattel (R2 = 0.48), and the persistence of the anomaly in Hg/TOC ratios in all sediments except for the TOC-enriched ones. These results suggest that the Hg anomaly not only is related to primary productivity, redox conditions, and organic-matter preservation, but has deeper roots. Volcanic outgassing related to Greater Ontong Java LIP activity is taken here as the main source of the Hg enrichment recorded in the western Tethyan sediments. Our Hg data indicate that magmatic pulses at the onset and during the OAE 1a triggered the early Aptian environmental perturbations.

Thermal and crystallization histories of magmatic bodies by Monte Carlo inversion of Mg-Fe isotopic profiles in olivine

A random search modeling approach is introduced to retrieve the thermal histories of magmatic bodies from chemical and isotopic analyses of olivine crystals. The sample used for demonstration is an olivine phenocryst from Kilauea Iki lava lake, Hawaii. Random time-temperature (t-T) paths were used to model diffusion accompanying crystal growth. Although a large number of t-T paths yielded acceptable fits to the Mg/Fe chemical profiles measured in olivine, only a small fraction resulted in acceptable fits to the Mg-Fe isotopic profiles. The best-fit cooling path was close to the independently inferred cooling history of this sample. Use of isotopic profiles in minerals coupled with a random search method can be a powerful tool for recovering thermal histories of rocks with little geologic context.

First direct evidence for natural occurrence of colloidal silica in chalcedony-hosted vacuoles and implications for ore-forming processes

Different forms of abundant silica (e.g., quartz and chalcedony) are closely associated with many types of ore deposits in igneous, metamorphic, and sedimentary environments. Occurrence of quartz and metal-bearing minerals together strongly indicates that silica is an important component in hydrothermal fluids transporting and concentrating economic metals to the ore grade, however chemical and physical characteristics of such ore-forming media remain debated. Understanding of the environment in which chalcedony forms is largely hampered by the lack of chalcedony-hosted fluid inclusions. Our study reports for the first time fortuitously preserved, large-sized (up to 150 μm) fluid inclusions in chalcedony from the Gonchak deposit of optical calcite in the Early Triassic basalts belonging to the Siberian large igneous province. The application of microthermometric methods, scanning electron microscopy with cathodoluminescence, and laser Raman spectroscopy to the fluid inclusions and their host chalcedony recognized the formation of chalcedony from a colloidal suspension. The fluid inclusions represent a gel-like saline aqueous fluid that is residual after precipitation of spherulitic chalcedony aggregates with numerous H2O-bearing and H2O-poor layers. We propose that the colloidal nature of fluids forming chalcedony lends strong support to the natural existence of experimentally predicted "silicothermal fluids". Such fluids can be instrumental in mobilizing and transporting large quantities of both silica and nano- and micro-particles of ore minerals, followed by efficient separation of the latter from coagulating silica gel into ore-rich zones and bodies.

Electron microscopy reveals evidence for simple multicellularity in the Proterozoic fossil Chuaria

Multicellularity arose multiple times in the evolutionary history of eukaryotes, and simple multicellularity may have a deep history tracing back to the Paleoproterozoic. However, complex multicellular organisms with cellular and tissue differentiation did not appear in the fossil record until the Mesoproterozoic, and it is not until the Ediacaran Period (635–541 Ma) when diverse assemblages of complex multicellular eukaryotes evolved. In the intervening Tonian Period (ca. 1000–720 Ma), the fossil record of multicellular organisms is poorly documented. To address this knowledge gap, we investigated Chuaria and associated carbonaceous compression fossils from the Tonian Liulaobei Formation in North China. These fossils have been variously interpreted as unicellular or multicellular organisms. Our analysis using backscattered-electron scanning electron microscopy (BSE-SEM) revealed direct evidence for simple multicellularity in some of these fossils and suggests that Chuaria may have had a multicellular vegetative stage in its life cycle. This study demonstrates that BSE-SEM has the potential to unveil the hidden diversity of multicellular organisms in the Tonian Period, thus enriching our knowledge about the multiple origins of multicellularity in this critical geological period before Cryogenian glaciations.

How old is Kilauea Volcano (Hawai'i)? Insights from 40Ar/39Ar dating of the 1.7-km-deep SOH-1 core

Reliable estimates for lava accumulation rates are essential for interpreting magma fluxes to intraplate volcanoes and inferring the thermal and compositional structure of mantle plumes. Kīlauea Volcano’s (Hawai‘i) 1.7-km-deep SOH-1 scientific drill hole provides an opportunity to assess the lava accumulation rate and duration of the early shield stage for Hawaiian volcanoes. New 40Ar/39Ar ages were determined for four SOH-1 tholeiitic samples. Combining these results with two previous 40Ar/39Ar ages and the age of the drill-site surface flow, and correcting sample depth to remove intervening dikes, yields a good correlation (R2 = 0.97) for a 4.4 m/k.y. accumulation rate, which may have increased to 5.9 m/k.y. during the last 50 k.y. These rates contrast with a predicted 40% decrease during the last 200 k.y. from a simple shield volcano growth model. Mauna Loa, a massive shield volcano that buttresses the north flank of Kīlauea, may have contributed to this nearly constant lava accumulation rate. Extending the correlation to the base of the SOH-1 core indicates that Kīlauea’s tholeiitic volcanism probably started by 240 ka. Assuming an ~400 k.y. duration for the preshield stage, Kīlauea is much older than some previous estimates (ca. 600 ka versus 150–275 ka) and has been vigorously erupting tholeiitic lavas for at least the past 200 k.y. During this period, it has been competing with Mauna Loa for the higher-temperature output of the Hawaiian mantle plume, which is contrary to previous models. New models that assess the magmatic output and thermal history of the Hawaiian mantle plume need to consider a steep increase in magma supply during the transition from preshield to shield stages to explain the near-constant lava accumulation rate during early shield growth.

High-precision time-space correlation through coupled apatite and zircon tephrochronology: An example from the Permian-Triassic boundary in South China

Accurate and precise dating of individual volcanogenic beds that spread across multiple sedimentary successions is a powerful tool to untangle stratigraphic age contradictions, since these horizons are deposited synchronously. In this study, we show that combining apatite chemistry with zircon age, Th/U ratio, and Hf isotope composition leads to reliable lateral correlation of volcanic horizons across sections representing disparate biological, chemical, and physical paleoenvironments. We correlate two volcanogenic horizons across six sedimentary sections straddling the Permian-Triassic boundary (PTB) in the Nanpanjiang Basin (South China), including the last Permian bed below the unconformity in shallow-water sections of the Luolou Platform. We place the PTB in our sections at the marked lithological change in order to avoid the difficulties that arise from the diachronism of the index conodont Hindeodus parvus, the first occurrence of which defines the PTB at the Global Stratotype Section and Point at Meishan. Our new data demonstrate that these volcanogenic beds are contemporaneous and cogenetic, allowing us to pool high-precision U-Pb zircon ages from the same horizon across several sections, and dating the last Permian volcanic event in this basin at 252.048 ± 0.033 Ma. We show that the mineral chemistry of apatite and zircon of intra- and interbasin-wide volcanogenic beds provides tie points against which biozones, carbon isotopes, astronomic cycles, and geomagnetic polarity time series can be stringently tested.

Water concentration profiles in natural mantle orthopyroxenes: A geochronometer for long annealing of xenoliths within magma

Both mantle-derived clinopyroxene and orthopyroxene are generally homogeneous in water concentration, while water content in the coexisting olivine is affected by partial or complete loss during the ascent of the hosting magma. Here, we report the first record of water content profiles (higher water in the cores than in the rims) in natural orthopyroxene grains in peridotite xenoliths hosted by Cenozoic alkali basalts in Tianchang volcano, eastern China. The water contents of the coexisting clinopyroxene grains are homogeneous and are twice that measured in the cores of orthopyroxene grains, confirming previous chemical equilibrium between the two pyroxenes. The olivines (ol) are nearly dry (~0 ppm). These observations demonstrate that H diffusion in mantle orthopyroxene (opx) is faster than in clinopyroxene (cpx), and the relative mobility of H in each mineral phase could be quantified as: (where is the chemical diffusion coefficient of hydrogen). Combining this with experimental diffusion coefficients from the literature, we infer that (1) the xenoliths remained in contact with the magma below 900 °C for several months, and (2) clinopyroxene remains the more reliable recorder of water from depth, and orthopyroxene should be used more cautiously but can be considered with olivine for tracing slow transport and cooling of magma.

Preservation or piracy: Diagnosing low-relief, high-elevation surface formation mechanisms

Absent clear lithologic control, the presence of elevated, low-relief topography in upland landscapes has traditionally been interpreted as a signature of relative surface uplift and incision of a paleo-landscape. Such interpretations are commonly supported and quantified using analyses of river longitudinal profiles under the assumption of a static drainage network topology. Drainage networks, however, are not static, and it has been proposed recently that divide migration and drainage capture can lead to the generation of low-relief upland topography that mimics that of incised paleo-landscapes and that might be falsely interpreted as recording surface uplift and/or the onset of accelerated incision. Indeed, the interpretation of the incised southeastern Tibetan Plateau, and thus the associated geodynamic implications, have been called into question. Here we use theory and one- and two-dimensional landscape evolution models to develop a set of morphometric criteria to distinguish these alternative mechanisms of low-relief upland formation. Application to the southeastern Tibetan Plateau illustrates the utility of these metrics and demonstrates that the topography is in no way consistent with the drainage network dynamics mechanism and is fully consistent with incision into an elevated, preexisting low-relief landscape.

Do mercury isotopes record the signature of massive volcanism in marine sedimentary records?

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