The thermal history of the western Irish onshore
We present here a low-temperature thermochronological study that combines the apatite fission-track and (U + Th)/He dating methods with a pseudo-vertical sampling approach to generate continuous and well-constrained temperature–time histories from the onshore Irish Atlantic margin. The apatite fission-track and (U + Th)/He ages range from the Late Jurassic to Early Cretaceous and the mean track lengths are relatively short. Thermal histories derived from inverse modelling show that following post-orogenic exhumation the sample profiles cooled to c. 75 °C. A rapid cooling event to surface temperatures occurred during the Late Jurassic to Early Cretaceous and was diachronous from north to south. It was most probably caused by c. 2.5 km of rift-shoulder related exhumation and can be temporally linked to the main stage of Mesozoic rifting in the offshore basins. A slow phase of reheating during the Late Cretaceous and Early Cenozoic is attributed to the deposition of a thick sedimentary sequence that resulted in c. 1.5 km of burial. Our data imply a final pulse of exhumation in Neogene times, probably related to compression of the margin. However, it is possible that an Early Cenozoic cooling event, compatible with our data but not seen in our inverse models, accounts for part of the Cenozoic exhumation.