Evaluating sediment recycling through combining inherited petrogenic and acquired sedimentary features of multiple detrital minerals

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An implicit assumption of most sedimentary provenance analyses is a direct link between source and sink. However, recycling of sedimentary detritus from pre-existing strata interrupts the direct source-to-sink link and can result in incorrect interpretations of paleogeography and paleodrainage. Detrital zircon is the favoured proxy of contemporary provenance studies, but its physiochemical resilience makes it particularly prone to recycling. In this study, we integrate geochemical (age, isotope, and trace elements) and grain roundness data of multiple detrital minerals with different physiochemical stabilities (zircon, tourmaline, rutile, and apatite) to evaluate the importance of recycling in an ancient sedimentary basin. We focus on the early Cambrian Lalun Formation of Iran, which forms part of a laterally extensive sandstone-rich succession deposited along the northern margin of Gondwana. The Lalun Formation preserves a distinct change of compositional maturity between lower arkose and shale units and an upper unit of quartz-rich sandstone. Detrital zircon, rutile, and apatite data demonstrate that all units of the Lalun Formation share a common source in the Arabian-Nubian Shield. Whole-rock geochemical data further indicate that all units have similar chemical alteration indices, suggesting the change in compositional maturity is not a product of differential weathering of the source region. Analysis of grain roundness reveals that detrital zircon, rutile, and tourmaline in the upper quartz-rich unit are typically more rounded than those in the underlying arkose and shale units. In contrast, detrital apatite grains are nearly all angular in the quartz-rich unit but mostly rounded in the lower arkose and shale. Together, the detrital mineral provenance, whole-rock geochemistry, and morphological data are consistent with recycling of the lower arkose and shale units of the Lalun Formation into the uppermost quartz-rich unit, with the latter also receiving a component of first-cycle detritus represented by angular detrital apatite. Our findings demonstrate that integrating the features of detrital minerals acquired during a sedimentary cycle (grain rounding and diversity of mineral assemblages) with features inherited from their ultimate source rocks (age, isotopic, and geochemical proxies) can assist in recognising sediment recycling in ancient strata.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1055-1083
Number of pages29
JournalBasin Research
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2022

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