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E&G Quaternary Science Journal An open-access journal of the German Quaternary Association
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Volume 67, issue 1 | Copyright
E&G Quaternary Sci. J., 67, 7-16, 2018
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 31 Jan 2018

Research article | 31 Jan 2018

Capability of U–Pb dating of zircons from Quaternary tephra: Jemez Mountains, NM, and La Sal Mountains, UT, USA

Jana Krautz1, Mandy Hofmann2, Andreas Gärtner2, Ulf Linnemann2, and Arno Kleber1 Jana Krautz et al.
  • 1Institute of Geography, Technische Universität Dresden, Helmholtzstr. 10, 01690 Dresden, Germany
  • 2Senckenberg Naturhistorische Sammlungen Dresden, Museum für Mineralogie und Geologie, Sektion Geochronologie, GeoPlasma Lab, Königsbrücker Landstraße 159, 01109 Dresden, Germany

Abstract. Two Quaternary tephras derived from the Jemez Mountains, New Mexico – the Guaje and Tsankawi tephras – are difficult to distinguish due to their similar glass-shard chemical composition. Differences in bulk chemical composition are small as well. Here we examine the feasibility to assign an age to a distal tephra layer in the La Sal Mountains, Utah, by U–Pb dating of zircons and to correlate it with one of the two Jemez eruptions. We also dated original Jemez tephras for comparison. Even though the tephras are very young, we obtained reasonable age determinations using the youngest cluster of zircon grains overlapping in age at 2σ. Thereafter, the Guaje tephra is 1.513±0.021Myr old. The La Sal Mountains tephra is correlated with the Tsankawi tephra. Three samples yielded a common age range of 1.31–1.40Myr. All ages are in slight disagreement with published age determinations obtained by 40Ar39Ar dating. These findings indicate that distal Jemez tephras can be distinguished by U–Pb dating. Furthermore, we encourage giving this method a try for age assignments even of Quaternary volcanic material.

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