Record of paleofluid circulation in faults revealed by hematite (U-Th)/He and apatite fission-track dating: An example from Gower Peninsula fault fissures, Wales


Ault, Alexis K.
Frenzel, Max
Reiners, Peter W.
Woodcock, Nigel H.
Thomson, Stuart N.

Fault rock low-temperature thermochronometry can inform the timing, temperature, and significance of hydrothermal fluid circulation in fault systems. We demonstrate this with combined hematite (U-Th)/He (He) dating, and sandstone apatite fission-track (AFT) and apatite and zircon (U-Th)/He (He) thermochronometry from fault-related fissures on the Gower Peninsula, Wales. Hematite He dates from 141 ± 5.1 Ma
to 120 ± 5.0 Ma overlap with a 131 ± 20 Ma sandstone infill AFT date. Individual zircon He dates are 402–260 Ma, reflecting source material erosion, and imply a maximum Late Permian infill depositional age. Burial history reconstruction reveals modern exposures were not buried sufficiently in the Triassic–Early Cretaceous to have caused reheating to temperatures necessary to reset the AFT or hematite He systems,
and thus these dates cannot reflect cooling due to erosion alone. Hot fluids circulating through fissures in the Early Cretaceous reset the AFT system. Hematite was either also reset by fluids or precipitated from these fluids. Similar hematite He dates from fault-related mineralization in south Glamorgan (Wales) and Cumbria (England) imply concomitant regional hot groundwater flow along faults. In this example, hydrothermal fluid circulation, coeval with North Atlantic rifting, occurred in higher-permeability fissures and fault veins long after they initially formed, directly influencing local and regional geothermal gradients.

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Figure 2. Scanning electron microscopy (SEM) secondary electron (SE) images of representative hematite aliquots at three different scales from Gower samples Lsl-1 (A–C) and EOx-8 (D–F), Glamorgan sample LLW-2 (G–I), and Cumbria sample
A14–11 (K–L).

Publication Listing

LITHOSPHERE; v. 8; no. 4; p. 379–385, doi:10.1130/L522.1