Refining the chronostratigraphy of the Karoo Basin, South Africa: magnetostratigraphic constraints support an early Permian age for the Ecca Group

Mercedes Belica, Eric Tohver, Miquel Poyatos-Moré, Stephen Flint, Luis Parra Avila, Luca Lanci, Steven Denyszyn, Sergei Pisarevsky

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

11 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The Beaufort Group of the Karoo Basin, South Africa provides an important chrono- and biostratigraphic record of vertebrate turnovers that have been attributed to the end-Permian mass extinction events at ca. 252 and 260 Ma. However, an unresolved controversy exists over the age of the Beaufort Group due to a large data set of published U–Pb SHRIMP (Sensitive High Resolution Ion Microprobe) zircon results that indicate a ca. 274–250 Ma age range for deposition of the underlying Ecca Group. This age range requires the application of a highly diachronous sedimentation model to the Karoo Basin stratigraphy and is not supported by published palaeontologic and palynologic data. This study tested the strength of these U–Pb isotopic data sets using a magnetostratigraphic approach. Here, we present a composite ∼1500 m section through a large part of the Ecca Group from the Tanqua depocentre, located in the southwestern segment of the Karoo Basin. After the removal of two normal polarity overprints, a likely primary magnetic signal was isolated at temperatures above 450 °C. This section is restricted to a reverse polarity, indicating that it formed during the Kiaman Reverse Superchron (ca. 318–265 Ma), a distinctive magnetostratigraphic marker for early−middle Permian rocks. The Ecca Group has a corresponding palaeomagnetic pole at 40.8°S, 77.4°E (A95 = 5.5°). U–Pb SHRIMP ages on zircons are presented here for comparison with prior isotopic studies of the Ecca Group. A weighted mean U–Pb age of 269.5 ± 1.2 Ma was determined from a volcanic ash bed located in the uppermost Tierberg Formation sampled from the O + R1 research core. The age is interpreted here as a minimum constraint due to a proposed Pb-loss event that has likely influenced a number of published results. A comparison with the Geomagnetic Polarity Time Scale as well as published U–Pb TIMS ages from the overlying Beaufort Group supports a ca. 290–265 Ma age for deposition of the Ecca Group.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1354-1374
JournalGeophysical Journal International
Volume211
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2017

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