Detrital-zircon analyses, provenance, and late Paleozoic sediment dispersal in the context of tectonic evolution of the Ouachita orogen

William A. Thomas, George E. Gehrels, Kurt E. Sundell, Mariah C. Romero

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


New analyses for U-Pb ages and eHft values, along with previously published U-Pb ages, from Mississippian-Permian sandstones in synorogenic clastic wedges of the Ouachita foreland and nearby intracratonic basins support new interpretations of provenance and sediment dispersal along the southern Midcontinent of North America. Recently published U-Pb and Hf data from the Marathon foreland confirm a provenance in the accreted Coahuila terrane, which has distinctive Amazonia/ Gondwana characteristics. Data from Pennsylvanian-Permian sandstones in the Fort Worth basin, along the southern arm of the Ouachita thrust belt, are nearly identical to those from the Marathon foreland, strongly indicating the same or a similar provenance. The accreted Sabine terrane, which is documented by geophysical data, is in close proximity to the Coahuila terrane, suggesting the two are parts of an originally larger Gondwanan terrane. The available data suggest that the Sabine terrane is a Gondwanan terrane that was the provenance of the detritus in the Fort Worth basin. Detrital-zircon data from Permian sandstones in the intracratonic Anadarko basin are very similar to those from the Fort Worth basin and Marathon foreland, indicating sediment dispersal from the Coahuila and/or Sabine terranes within the Ouachita orogen cratonward from the immediate forelands onto the southern craton. Similar, previously published data from the Permian basin suggest widespread distribution from the Ouachita orogen. In contrast to the other basins along the Ouachita-Marathon foreland, the Mississippian-Pennsylvanian sandstones in the Arkoma basin contain a more diverse distribution of detrital-zircon ages, indicating mixed dispersal pathways of sediment from multiple provenances. Some of the Arkoma sandstones have U-Pb age distributions like those of the Fort Worth and Marathon forelands. In contrast, other sandstones, especially those with paleocurrent and paleogeographic indicators of southward progradation of depositional systems onto the northern distal shelf of the Arkoma basin, have U-Pb age distributions and εHft values like those of the “Appalachian signature.” The combined data suggest a mixture of detritus from the proximal Sabine terrane/Ouachita orogenic belt with detritus routed through the Appalachian basin via the southern Illinois basin to the distal Arkoma basin. The Arkoma basin evidently marks the southwestern extent of Appalachian-derived detritus along the Ouachita-Marathon foreland and the transition southwestward to overfilled basins that spread detritus onto the southern craton from the Ouachita-Marathon orogen, including accreted Gondwanan terranes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1214-1247
Number of pages34
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geology
  • Stratigraphy


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