U-Pb zircon age constraints on the earliest eruptions of the Deccan Large Igneous Province, Malwa Plateau, India

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Climate instability driven by emission of volatiles during emplacement of large igneous provinces (LIPs) is frequently invoked as a potential cause of mass extinctions. However, documenting this process in the geologic record requires a holistic understanding of eruption rates, the location of eruptive centers, and potential sources of climate-changing volatiles. We present new chemical abrasion–isotope dilution–thermal ionization mass spectrometry (CA-ID-TIMS) U-Pb zircon geochronology from Malwa Plateau basalts on the northern margin of the Deccan LIP, India. These basalts have been previously interpreted as either an extension of the province's main volcanic stratigraphy or as an independent eruptive center active up to millions of years prior to the main eruptive phase. Our data instead demonstrate that the lower Malwa Plateau basalts are temporally correlative with the first pulse of Deccan volcanism and provide new constraints on its initiation and duration. Paleomagnetic data further indicate that upper Malwa Plateau basalts may be age-equivalent to the second, third, and fourth pulses of Deccan volcanism. The relative thicknesses of age-equivalent packages of basalt are consistent with eruption of the Deccan LIP from a southward-migrating eruptive center. The first eruptive pulse is coeval with a ∼200 kyr Late Maastrichtian warming event preserved globally in contemporaneous stratigraphic sections. We propose that the first pulse of Deccan magmatism was more voluminous in the north, where it erupted through organic-rich sedimentary rocks of the Narmada-Tapti rift basin. Thermal metamorphism of these sediments could have been a source of sufficient CO2 to drive the Late Maastrichtian warming event, which if true would reconcile the apparent dampened warming signals associated with later Deccan eruptive pulses.


Earth and Planetary Science Letters
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