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Considerations on the age of the Urach volcanic field (Southwest Germany)

[Das Alter und die Dauer der vulkanischen Aktivität im Urach-Kirchheimer Vulkangebiet (SW-Deutschland)]

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The Urach volcanic field in Southwest Germany is part of the Tertiary to Quaternary European Volcanic Province and comprises more than 350 maar-diatremes and just a few outcrops of coherent volcanic rocks (melilitites and nephelinites). K/Ar dating performed in the 60s and 70s suggested the main volcanicity to have been active in the time span between 30–11 Ma. In the more recent literature, the age of the Urach volcanic field was estimated to be 17–16 Ma and ∼ 17–11 Ma on the basis of biostratigraphic data, respectively. In this study, we present a summary of petrographic and geochemical data for coherent olivine melilitite from various locations within the Urach volcanic field. Least altered rock samples were selected for isotopic dating. As a case study, we performed K/Ar dating of fresh olivine melilitite from the Dietenbühl diatreme in the southern central part of the Urach volcanic field (thought to be one of the older volcanic deposits and previously dated at ∼ 20 Ma) to either verify or discard the former dating results. Our dating results yield a significantly younger age of ∼ 13 Ma for the Dietenbühl diatreme suggesting that the volcanic activity in the Urach volcanic field may be considerably younger than previously postulated. In contrast to the formerly estimated long-lasting volcanic activity in the Urach volcanic field (up to ∼ 19 million years), the monogenetic character of the volcanic field suggests a comparatively short phase of volcanic activity of probably some few million years.

German
Das Urach-Kirchheimer Vulkangebiet stellt einen Teil der Europäischen Vulkanprovinz dar und umfasst mehr als 350 Maare und Diatreme sowie einige Aufschlüsse mit massiven Vulkanitvorkommen von Melilithiten und seltenen Nepheliniten. K/Ar-Datierungen, die überwiegend in den 1960er und 1970er Jahren durchgeführt wurden, ergaben stark streuende Alter zwischen 30 und 11 Ma, was auf eine ungewöhnlich lange Aktivität des monogenetischen Vulkanismus auf der Schwäbischen Alb hindeutete. In neuerer Literatur wird jedoch eine deutlich kürzere Zeitspanne der vulkanischen Aktivität zwischen 17 und 11 Ma oder sogar zwischen 17 und 16 Ma angegeben, was im Wesentlichen auf biostratigrafischen Untersuchungen von Maarfüllungen basiert. Unsere umfassende Zusammenstellung petrografischer und geochemischer Daten von Olivin-Melilithiten unterschiedlicher Lokalitäten auf der Schwäbischen Alb zeigt, welche dieser Vulkanite für zukünftige Datierungsprojekte geeignet sind. Als Fallstudie haben wir Olivin-Melilithite des Dietenbühl-Diatrems mittels der K/Ar-Methode neu datiert. Die Datierung dieser Gesteine resultierte in einem Alter von ∼ 13 Ma, wobei eine frühere Datierung ein Alter von ∼ 20 Ma für das Dietenbühl-Diatrem ergeben hatte. In Verbindung mit den biostratigrafischen Daten ist diese erste Datierung ein deutlicher Hinweis darauf, dass der monogenetische Vulkanismus des Urach-Kirchheimer Vulkangebiets nicht ∼ 19 Ma (∼ 30–11 Ma) lang andauerte, sondern wahrscheinlich nur wenige Millionen Jahre aktiv war.
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Keywords: EUROPEAN VOLCANIC PROVINCE; K/AR DATING; OLIVINE MELILITITE; URACH VOLCANIC FIELD

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 December 2009

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  • Zeitschrift der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Geowissenschaften (ZDGG) is an international peer reviewed journal that accepts papers on research and applied topics in the Earth Sciences. It is published online and in print. One volume, consisting of four issues is published annually. The journal is continously published by the German Geological Society since its foundation in 1848. It was relaunched in 2005.

    ZDGG invites the submission of English, German and French language papers from all fields of geology, hydrogeology, paleontology, tectonics, sedimentology, engineering geology and of course environmental geology to name a few. The editors of ZDGG also invite suggestions for thematic issues.
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