AAPG Foundation 2019 Grants-in-Aid Projects

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Sedimentary petrochronology for detrital provenance analysis: U-Pb and rare-earth element compositions in zircon from the modern Mississippi River drainage basin


The emerging field of petrochronology, where geochronologic ages are paired with geochemical analysis, seeks to investigate the petrogenetic history of igneous and metamorphic systems. Petrochronology, however, has not been widely developed for use in source-to-sink sedimentary studies, to investigate the sediment source of clastic deposits. I propose to investigate the potential applications of detrital petrochronology using in situ rare-earth element compositions and U-Pb ages of zircon from the modern channel and bank sediment from North American river systems. Samples of river sediment will be taken from the Missouri, Brazos, Arkansas, Yellowstone, Platte, Kansas, Red, and Mississippi Rivers and will provide insight into chemical-age trends that can be observed in a sedimentary system with known drainage basins. Using this approach, we will test the application of detrital petrochronology, which can provide insight into sediment source evolution, a proxy for clastic reservoir quality in hydrocarbon exploration.