Reconciling strontium-isotope and K-Ar ages with biostratigraphy: the case of the Urgonian platform, Early Cretaceous of the Jura Mountains, Western Switzerland

Godet, Alexis ; Föllmi, Karl ; Stille, Peter ; Bodin, Stéphane ; Matera, Virginie ; Adatte, Thierry

In: Swiss Journal of Geosciences, 2011, vol. 104, no. 1, p. 147-160

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    During the late Early Cretaceous, the shallow-water domains of the western Tethys are characterized by the widespread deposition of Urgonian-type carbonates rich in rudists, corals and other oligotrophic, shallow-marine organisms. In the Helvetic Alps, the Urgonian occurrences have been dated by ammonite biostratigraphy as Late Barremian and Early Aptian. For the more proximal occurrences in the western Swiss Jura, a recent age model based on bio-, chemo- and sequence stratigraphy has been proposed, which allows for an improved correlation with the Helvetic counterparts. In order to corroborate the recently proposed age model for the Jura, a set of well-preserved rhynchonellids collected from five different lithostratigraphical formations and members ("Marnes bleues d'Hauterive”, "Marnes d'Uttins”, basal marly layers within the "Urgonien Jaune”, "Marnes de la Russille”, "Urgonien Blanc”) has been analysed for its strontium-isotope ratios (87Sr/86Sr). In addition, K-Ar dating was performed on well-preserved glauconite grains from two different levels ("Marnes d'Uttins” and a basal layer within the "Urgonien Jaune”). The correlation of the Sr-isotope data set with a belemnite-based, ammonite-calibrated reference curve provides an age model which is coherent with recently published ages based on calcareous nannofossil biostratigraphy and the correlation of trends in chemo- and sequence stratigraphy. K-Ar dating on well-preserved glauconite grains from the "Marnes d'Uttins” and lowermost part of the "Urgonien Jaune” delivered ages of 127.5±2.3 and 130.7±2.6Ma, respectively. Whereas the age of the glauconitic level near the base of the "Urgonien Jaune” is chronostratigraphically meaningful, the K-Ar age of the "Marnes d'Uttins” appears too young relative to the presently used time scale. This may be related to rejuvenation of the K-Ar chronometer due to post-depositional Ar loss, most likely during hardground formation. The ages obtained here confirm the Late Barremian age for the onset of the Urgonian platform, an age which is conform with ages obtained in the Helvetic Alps and elsewhere along the northern Tethyan margin