Detrital zircon geochronology of the Adams Argillite and Nation River Formation, east-central Alaska, U.S.A

George E. Gehrels, Mark J. Johnsson, David G. Howell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


The Cambrian Adams Argillite and the Devonian Nation River Formation are two sandstone-bearing units within a remarkably complete Paleozoic stratigraphic section in east-central Alaska. These strata, now foreshortened and fault-bounded, were originally contiguous with miogeoclinal strata to the east that formed as a passive-margin sequence along the northwestern margin of the North American continent. Seventy-five detrital zircon grains from the Adams Argillite and the Nation River Formation were analyzed in an effort to provide constraints on the original sources of the grains, and to generate a detrital zircon reference for miogeoclinal strata in the northern Cordillera. Thirty-five single zircon grains from a quartzite in the Adams Argillite yield dominant age clusters of 1047-1094 (n = 6), 1801-1868 (n = 10), and 2564-2687 (n = 5) Ma. Forty zircons extracted from a sandstone in the Nation River Formation yield clusters primarily of 424-434 (n = 6), 1815-1838 (n = 6), 1874-1921 (n = 7), and 2653-2771 (n = 4) Ma. The Early Proterozoic and Archean grains in both units probably originated in basement rocks in a broad region of the Canadian Shield. In contrast, the original igneous sources for mid-Protcrozoic grains in the Adams Argillite and ∼ 430 Ma grains in the Nation River Formation are more difficult to identify. Possible original sources for the mid-Proterozoic grains include: (1) the Grenville Province of eastern Laurentia, (2) the Pearya terrane along the Arctic margin, and (3) mid-Proterozoic igneous rocks that may have been widespread along or outboard of the Cordilleran margin. The ∼ 430 Ma grains may have originated in: (1) arc-type sources along the Cordilleran margin, (2) the Caledonian orogen, or (3) a landmass, such as Pearya, Siberia, or crustal fragments now in northern Asia, that resided outboard of the Innuitian orogen during mid-Paleozoic time.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)135-144
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Sedimentary Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1999

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geology


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