Fe- and Mn-oxides are common secondary minerals in faults, fractures, and veins and potentially record information about the timing of fluid movement through their host rocks. These phases are difficult to date by most radioisotopic techniques, but relatively high concentrations of U and Th make the (U-Th)/He system a promising approach. We present new petrographic, geochronologic and thermochronologic analyses of secondary oxides and associated minerals from fault zones and fractures in southeastern Arizona. We use these phases in attempt to constrain the timing of fluid flow and their relationship to magmatic, tectonic, or other regional processes. In the shallowly exhumed Galiuro Mountains, Fe-oxide (U-Th)/He dates correspond to host-rock crystallization and magmatic intrusions from ca. 1.6 to 1.1 Ga. Step-heating 4He/3He experiments and polydomain diffusion modeling of 3He release spectra on these samples are consistent with a crystallite size control on He diffusivity, and little fractional loss of radiogenic He since formation in coarse-grained hematite, but large losses from fine-grained Mn-oxide. In contrast to Proterozoic dates, Fe- and Mn-oxides from the Catalina-Rincon and Pinaleño metamorphic core complexes are exclusively Cenozoic, with dates clustering at ca. 24, 15, and 9 Ma, which represent distinct cooling or fluid-flow episodes during punctuated periods of normal faulting. Finally, a subset of Fe-oxides yield dates of ca. 5 Ma to 6 ka and display either pseudomorphic cubic forms consistent with oxidative retrogression of original pyrite or magnetite, or fine-grained botryoidal morphologies that we interpret to represent approximate ages of recrystallization or pseudomorphic replacement at shallow depths.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Geochemistry and Petrology