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The Great Oxidation Event (GOE) is marked by the loss of readily oxidizable detrital minerals and the onset of oxidative weathering. One of the oldest post-GOE weathering surfaces, which extends for almost 350 km along strike, occurs in Griqualand West, South Africa. It is best preserved east of the Blackridge thrust, where oxidized paleoweathering profiles are developed below the unconformity at the base of Mapedi-Gamagara red beds. In the Maremane Dome, the red beds preserve pisolitic hematite laterites, which indicate a highly oxygenated atmosphere and suggest hot and humid climatic conditions. The Mapedi and Gamagara Formations are undated east of the Blackridge thrust but were thought to be lithological correlatives of the ≥1.91 Ga Mapedi red bed sequence to the west. Here, we report a U-Pb zircon age of 1.25 Ga for a felsic tuff in red beds of the Mapedi Formation in the Kalahari manganese field. The new tuff age shows that the Mapedi red beds east of the thrust were deposited >650 m.y. after the Mapedi Formation to the west, and therefore they are part of a distinct Mesoproterozoic sequence. Based on lithologic and sedimentological similarities, the Mapedi-east and Gamagara formations are likely to be correlatives that were deposited on an ancient weathering surface at ca. 1.25 Ga. Our findings suggest that key evidence for a highly oxygenated atmosphere during the early Paleoproterozoic actually formed at ca. 1.25 Ga during a major episode of Mesoproterozoic oxidative weathering.
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