Determining accurate temperature-time paths from U-Pb thermochronology: An example from the Kaapvaal craton, southern Africa

Blair Schoene, Samuel A. Bowring

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143 Scopus citations


Thermochronology has revolutionized our understanding of the establishment and evolution of lithospheric thermal structure. However, many potential benefits provided by the application of diffusion theory to thermochronology have yet to be fully exploited. This study uses apatite (Tc = 450-550 °C) and titanite (Tc = 550-650 °C) U-Pb ID-TIMS thermochronology at the single- to sub-grain scale to separate the variable effects of volume diffusion of Pb from metamorphic (over)growth above and below the Tc of a mineral. Data are presented from two ca. 3227 Ma tonalite samples from north and south of the Barberton Greenstone Belt (BGB), southern Africa. Two distinct populations of apatite from a sample north of the BGB record fast cooling followed by metamorphic growth ∼10 Myr later. Both apatite and titanite dates from south of the BGB show a strong correlation with the grain size and record 100 Myr of post-emplacement cooling. Complex core-rim zoning observed in cathodoluminescence images of apatite is interpreted to reflect metamorphic overgrowth above the Tc. The age and topology of grain size versus date curves from titanite and apatite are used in combination with a finite-difference numerical model to show that slow, non-linear, cooling and not thermal resetting is responsible for the observed distribution. The thermal histories from either side of the BGB are very different and provide unique insight into the BGB's tectonic evolution: a ∼70 Myr period of apparent stability after ca. 3.2 Ga terrane assembly was followed by fast exhumation south of the BGB that led to lower-crustal melting and intrusion of granitic batholiths ca. 3.14-3.10 Ga.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)165-185
Number of pages21
JournalGeochimica et Cosmochimica Acta
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2007
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geochemistry and Petrology


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