40Ar/39Ar dating of the Skaergaard Intrusion

Marc M. Hirschmann, Paul R. Renne, Alexander R. McBirney

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We report the first 40Ar-39Ar data for the Skaergaard Intrusion, based on analyses of hornblende and biotite from a Transgressive granophyre from Upper Zone A (UZa) of the Layered Series. Hornblende separates heated in a resistance furnace and laser-heated single crystals of biotite from the granophyre give plateau ages that are consistent with isochron ages of 55.48 ± 0.30 and 55.40 ± 0.14 Ma respectively (2σ internal uncertainty), with initial 40Ar/39Ar ratios of 292.4 ± 19.0 and 291.1 ± 7.2. If uncertainties in the ages of 40Ar-39Ar standard fluence monitors are considered (external uncertainties), 2σ errors are 0.76 and 0.72 Ma, respectively. Resistance heating analysis of biotite separated from a gabbro from Lower Zone A (LZa) of the Skaergaard Layered Series indicates that the sample has been extensively contaminated by Ar inherited from old crust and does not constrain the intrusion age, apart from indicating that it is less than approximately 57 Ma old. The Ar cooling ages are consistent within uncertainty with both pluton cooling models presented by Norton and Taylor [1], but the data agree best with their model (S2) which assumes a smaller permeability (10-13 cm2). Combination of the new ages and the Norton and Taylor cooling models constrains the emplacement and final crystallization of the Skaergaard magma chamber to be at 55.75 ± 0.30 Ma and 55.65 ± 0.30 Ma, respectively. Evidence for late-crystallizing quartz and tridymite near the Sandwich Horizon (SH), combined with phase-equilibria constraints on the near-solidus crystallization temperature of the SH (975 ± 25°C), require the pressure of SH solidification to be 60 ± 15 MPa. This means that the Tertiary basalts and sediments overlying the Kangerdlugssuaq region were 3.2 ± 0.8 km thick at 55.65 ± 0.30 Ma. Assuming that the 6-7 km thick Tertiary section exposed further east along the East Greenland coast is representative of that which accumulated above the Skaergaard, we infer that the Skaergaard emplacement occurred during the Main stage of the East Greenland flood basalt event, after approximately half of the Tertiary section had erupted. The onset of coastal flexure in the Kangerdlugssuaq region was after 55.48 ± 0.76 Ma.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)645-658
Number of pages14
JournalEarth and Planetary Science Letters
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - Feb 1997

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Duncan and C.K. Brooks for constructive reviews. MMH thanks Steve Goldberg, Jonathan Miller and Donna L. Whitney for laboratory assistance. PRR thanks Ken Ludwig, Warren Sharp, Bosqueax Hund, and Tim Becker for laboratory assistancea nd discussions. PRR acknowledgess upport of grants EAR94-15513, EAR94-05309, and EAR94-05347 from the National Science Foundation. ICLI

Copyright 2020 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Absolute age
  • Ar-40/Ar-39
  • East greenland
  • Geologic barometry
  • Skaergaard intrusion


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