Uralian Provenance Project 2017-2019

Late Palaeozoic to Early Mesozoic sandstones with an inferred Uralian provenance comprise an important component of not only the west Uralian foreland basins, West Siberian Basin and Yenisei-Khatanga Basin, but also the more distant Barents Shelf and Sverdrup Basin. CASP provenance research indicates that Triassic sandstones from the Korotaikha Basin (Pai-Khoi, Arctic Uralides) and the Barents Shelf, while clearly derived from the Urals, are distinctly different sand types. Currently our ability to resolve the provenance of these different sands to specific sectors of the orogen, and ultimately establish the scale of the river systems supplying the basins, is severely limited by the dearth of accessible and reliable geochronological and geochemical data especially from the more northerly sectors of the Urals.

So that we can trace these different sand types to specific parts of the Uralian orogen, the Uralian Provenance Project will investigate the evolution of the provenance characteristics of the Polar and Subpolar Urals via a multi-proxy provenance study of Permian to Triassic sandstones within the adjacent foreland basin. In addition, the cooling and exhumation of the Subpolar Urals will be established using thermochronological techniques.

Main Objectives

Research will primarily focus on the Kos’yu-Rogova Basin, the foreland basin to the Polar and Subpolar Urals, using samples and observations already collected. Reports and GIS data will be issued that address the following themes:

  • Biostratigraphical review of the Kos’yu-Rogova Basin. Sedimentological studies and sampling have already been conducted along several rivers that expose stratotype sections for the Permian to Triassic fill of the Kos’yu-Rogova Basin. A biostratigraphic review of available Russian literature will be conducted to generate a stratigraphic framework for correlation between different studied sections.
  • Provenance study of Late Palaeozoic to Mesozoic sandstones from Polar to Subpolar Urals. The history of arc-continent and eventual continent-continent collision along the Polar to Subpolar Urals spans the Early Carboniferous to Triassic. A multi-technique provenance analysis of syn-orogenic sandstones already collected will be conducted. This will include conventional HM, single-grain chemistry (apatite, chrome-spinel, garnet), detrital U/Pb zircon, apatite, and rutile, as well as, petrography. The results will provide an insight into how the provenance characteristics of the Polar and Subpolar Urals evolved during orogenesis.
  • Origin of detrital epidote within Early Triassic strata of Korotaikha Basin. Early Triassic sandstones (Lestanshor Formation) within the Korotaikha Basin, adjacent to Polar Urals, are characterised by an abundance of epidote the provenance of which is unclear. It may be derived from hydrous anatectic granitoids within the Main Granitic Axis of the Urals, or alternatively meta-mafic lithologies. Single-grain trace and rare earth element analyses will be conducted to differentiate between the possible sources.
  • Provenance study of modern river sands. Opportunistic modern river sands have been collected to establish the present day provenance characteristics of the Polar and Subpolar Urals within the river catchment areas. The data will be used for critical comparison with the provenance data derived from syn-orogenic sandstones.
  • Bedrock thermochronological study of the Subpolar Urals. A bedrock thermochronology study will be conducted in the Subpolar Urals to establish temporal constraints for cooling and exhumation associated with orogenesis. The study will also provide insights into the timing of post Uralian (post-Paleogene?) uplift and formation of the present day topography of the Urals Mountains.
  • Detrital thermochronological study of Triassic sandstones. Fission track analysis of detrital minerals from Early to Middle Triassic sandstones collected along the Bolshaya Synya River will be conducted. The results will be compared to the bedrock thermochronology study of the Subpolar Urals to further constrain the sediment provenance.

Project length: 24 months from December 2017
Contact: Mike Curtis

Reports Issued in this Project