Original paper

The onset and origin of differentiated Rhine Graben volcanism based on U-Pb ages and oxygen isotopic composition of zircon

Schmitt, Axel K.; Marks, Michael A.W. Nesbor

Abstract

Ion microprobe U-Pb zircon ages for late (phase II) syenite dikes of the Katzenbuckel (SW Germany) average 69.6 ± 1.9 Ma (mean square of weighted deviates MSWD = 0.36; number of spot analyses n = 9; 2σ error) and represent a minimum age for the emplacement of earlier, volumetrically dominant phonolites and nepheline syenites (phase I). This age is ∼ 13 and 6 Ma older than previously published K-Ar whole-rock and bulk biotite ages for phase I rocks, respectively. Because of close chemical affinities in magma composition and the small volume of the Katzenbuckel subvolcanic intrusion, zircon crystallization in phase II syenite dikes presumably only shortly postdates phase I magmatism. Trachytes from the Northern Upper Rhine Graben (Sprendlinger Horst, Wetterau) yielded similar U-Pb zircon ages of 68.1 ± 1.4 Ma (MSWD = 2.2) and 70.3 ± 1.6 Ma (MSWD = 0.4), respectively. Zircon oxygen isotopic ratios of Katzenbuckel indicate primitive mantle-like compositions, whereas Sprendlinger Horst and Wetterau trachytes zircons show minor crustal contamination. The investigated differentiates rank among the oldest known post-Permian igneous rocks in the Northern foreland of the Alpine collisional belt, and are contemporaneous with recently dated lamprophyres in the Northern Rhine Graben area. This suggests that a short (< 1-2 Ma) but regionally widespread magmatic pulse occurred along the E and NE flanks of the nascent Rhine Graben rift as early as Late Maastrichtian.

Keywords

rhine grabenrift zonessyenitetrachytezirconu-pb isotopesoxygen isotopesion-probe