Sedimentary provenance in continental rifts: U–Pb detrital zircon, Nd and Sr isotopes and lithogeochemistry of the Eocene alluvial sandstones of the Resende Basin, SE–Brazil

Manuela de Oliveira Carvalho, Catherine M. Mottram, Claudio De Morisson Valeriano, Renato Rodriguez Cabral Ramos, Randall Parrish, Joseph Dunlop, Natália Cota, Gabriel Paravidini, Carla Cristine Aguiar Neto, Monica Heilbron, Craig Storey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Multiproxy analysis of detrital minerals is a powerful tool for unravelling the source-to-sink evolution of syn-rift sedimentary basins that represent important depositional settings during major rift events. The Cenozoic Resende half-graben in SE Brazil is a classic example of a syn-rift basin developed under oblique extension, which preserves evidence of tectonic episodes and palaeoclimatic conditions during the opening of the Atlantic. Sediment in the basin was sourced from the surrounding basement rocks, which to the faulted margin consists of older Proterozoic orthogranulites and orthogneisses, whilst to the flexural margin is characterised by Neoproterozoic passive margin paragneisses. Cretaceous intra-plate alkaline stocks crop out at the western edge and in the central-south basement of the basin and represent a distinct provenance fingerprint. This study uses new detrital zircons U–Pb ages combined with previously published elemental and Nd and Sr isotopic data to characterise the sedimentary provenance of Eocene alluvial deposits and to understand how sediment sourcing has changed throughout the evolution of the basin. U–Pb detrital zircon analyses from samples collected across the Resende Basin are presented herein. Samples yield a spread of detrital age spectra from the Archaean to the Cretaceous. Precambrian zircons range from ca. 3228 Ma to ca. 542 Ma. Cretaceous zircons yield ages between ca. 138 Ma and ca. 67 Ma. The sediment source location is interpreted by comparing the yielded detrital zircon spectra with the age spectra of zircons from the basement rocks. The dominance of detrital zircons yielding ages of ca. 1500 Ma and ca. 1000 Ma is interpreted to be sourced from the Neoproterozoic basement rocks to the flexural border of the half-graben. Cretaceous zircons from samples with whole rock εNd40Ma > −10 are found in both the western and eastern portions of the half-graben but not in the central portions. It is interpreted that an along-axis fluvial system was responsible for a small increase in the compositional maturity of the Resende sandstones from west to east, resulting in the progressive dilution of Cretaceous alkaline igneous detritus along the basin axis. Preserved metamorphic rims in zircon grains indicate low transport abrasion, suggesting that Cretaceous zircons in the eastern depocentre could be associated with other small proximal sources. U–Pb zircon analyses and Nd and Sr isotopes provide reliable insights regarding sediment provenance and transport processes, whilst element geochemistry supplies evidence for hydraulic sorting effects. Consequently, the data represents a more robust estimation of the provenance patterns of the Resende Basin, showing chemical and geochronological differences that support the division of the basin into three depocentres (western, central, and eastern) connected by a longitudinal fluvial system sourced mostly by sediments coming from the south-western flexural border. This study highlights the usefulness of using multiple provenance proxies to unravel the complex development of rift basins, assessing multiple source terrains and the variable degrees of mixing in sedimentary basins.
Original languageEnglish
Article number106452
JournalSedimentary Geology
Early online date26 Jun 2023
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jul 2023

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