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Durham University

Department of Earth Sciences


Publication details for Prof. Dave Selby

Rooney, A.D., Selby, D., Houzay, J-P. & Renne, P.R. (2010). Re–Os geochronology of a Mesoproterozoic sedimentary succession, Taoudeni basin, Mauritania: Implications for basin-wide correlations and Re–Os organic-rich sediments systematics. Earth and Planetary Science Letters 289(3-4): 486-496.

Author(s) from Durham


The exceptionally well-preserved sedimentary rocks of the Taoudeni basin, NW Africa represent one of the world's most widespread (> 1 M km2) Proterozoic successions. Hitherto, the sedimentary rocks were considered to be Mid Tonian based on Rb–Sr illite and glauconite geochronology of the Atar Group. However, new Re–Os organic-rich sediment (ORS) geochronology from two drill cores indicates that the Proterozoic Atar Group is 200 Ma older (1107 ± 12 Ma, 1109 ± 22 Ma and 1105 ± 37 Ma). The Re–Os geochronology suggests that the Rb–Sr geochronology records the age of diagenetic events possibly associated with the Pan African collision.

The new Re–Os geochronology data provide absolute age constraints for recent carbon isotope chemostratigraphy which suggests that the Atar Group is Mesoproterozoic and not Neoproterozoic.

The new Re–Os ORS geochronology supports previous studies that suggest that rapid hydrocarbon generation (flash pyrolysis) from contact metamorphism of a dolerite sill does not significantly disturb the Re–Os ORS systematics. Modelled contact conditions suggest that the Re–Os ORS systematics remain undisturbed at 650 °C at the sill/shale contact and ≥ 280 °C 20 m from the sill/shale contact.

Moreover, the Re–Os geochronology indicates that the West African craton has a depositional history that predates 1100 Ma and that ORS can be correlated on a basin-wide scale. In addition, the Re–Os depositional ages for the ORS of the Taoudeni basin are comparable to those of ORS from the São Francisco craton, suggesting that these cratons are correlatable. This postulate is further supported by identical Osi values for the Atar Group and the Vazante Group of the São Francisco craton.