Geochemical correlation of ash-fall beds with conventional tephrochronologic methods is not feasible when original glass composition is altered. Thus, alternative correlation methods may be required. Initial studies of heavily altered Paleozoic tephra (K-bentonites) have suggested the potential for employing trace-element concentrations in apatite as ash-fall bed discriminators. To further test the utility of apatite trace-element tephrochronology, we analyzed apatite phenocrysts from unaltered volcanic rocks with an electron microprobe: nine samples from rocks erupted during the Quaternary and one sample from a rock erupted during the Paleogene. The resulting apatite trace-element data provide unique bed discriminators despite within-crystal variability. Each of the volcanic rocks studied possesses unique trends in Mg, Cl, Mn, Fe, Ce and Y concentrations in apatite. The results from this study establish an important tephrochronologic method that can be applied to nearly all portions of the Phanerozoic stratigraphic record and greatly assist development of an advanced timescale. In addition to establishing a fingerprint for a particular eruption, apatite chemistry provides useful information about the source magma.
- Electron microprobe
- Trace elements
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
- Earth-Surface Processes
- General Earth and Planetary Sciences