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A high-precision U–Pb age constraint on the Rhynie Chert Konservat-Lagerstätte: time scale and other implications

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journal contribution
posted on 21.06.2016 by S.F. Parry, S.R. Noble, Q.G. Crowley, C.H. Wellman

An isotope dilution thermal ionization mass spectrometry U–Pb zircon age of 411.5 ± 1.3 Ma obtained from an andesitic lava occurring within the Lower Devonian Rhynie Outlier (Aberdeenshire, NE Scotland) effectively dates the Rhynie Chert Konservat-Lagerstätte. Biostratigraphical constraints on the Rhynie Chert-bearing succession indicate that this age lies within the interval early (but not earliest) Pragian–(?)earliest Emsian. Accordingly, the Pragian–Emsian boundary must post-date or closely approximate to 411.5 ± 1.3 Ma, while the Lochkovian–Pragian boundary must predate 411.5 ± 1.3 Ma. Integration of this new high-precision age with an improved temporal framework for late Caledonian intrusive activity in NE Scotland suggests that the Rhynie hot-spring system (the ‘parental' hydrothermal system to the Rhynie cherts) was unrelated to any ‘Newer Granite' intrusion. Rhynie was instead powered by a basaltic andesite magma whose generation and ascent were directly linked to the transcurrent fault movements responsible for the formation of the Rhynie basin.