, Volume 105, Issue 1, pp 85-108

Integrated Ladinian bio-chronostratigraphy and geochrononology of Monte San Giorgio (Southern Alps, Switzerland)

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Abstract

New biostratigraphic data significantly improve the age assignment of the Ladinian succession of Monte San Giorgio (UNESCO World Heritage List site, Southern Alps, Switzerland), whose world-famous fossil marine vertebrate faunas are now dated to the substage and zone levels. High-resolution single-zircon U–Pb dating was performed using ID-TIMS and chemical abrasion (CA) pre-treatment technique on volcanic ash layers intercalated in the biostratigraphically-defined intervals of the Meride Limestone. It yielded ages of 241.07 ± 0.13 Ma (Cava superiore beds, P. gredleri Zone), 240.63 ± 0.13 Ma (Cassina beds, P gredleri/P. archelaus transition Zone) and 239.51 ± 0.15 Ma (Lower Kalkschieferzone, P. archelaus Zone). Our results suggest that the time interval including the vertebrate-bearing Middle Triassic section spans around 4 Myr and is thus significantly shorter than so far assumed. The San Giorgio Dolomite and the Meride Limestone correlate with intervals of the Buchenstein Formation and the Wengen Formation in the reference section at Bagolino, where the Global boundary Stratotype Section and Point (GSSP) for the base of the Ladinian was defined. The new radio-isotopic ages of the Meride Limestone are up to 2 Myr older than those published for the biostratigraphically-equivalent intervals at Bagolino but they are consistent with the recent re-dating of the underlying Besano Formation, also performed using the CA technique. Average sedimentation rates at Monte San Giorgio are by more than an order of magnitude higher compared to those assumed for the Buchenstein Formation, which formed under sediment-starved pelagic conditions, and reflect prevailing high subsidence and high carbonate mud supply from the adjoining Salvatore/Esino platforms. Finally, the high-resolution U–Pb ages allow a correlation of the vertebrate faunas of the Cava superiore/Cava inferiore beds with the marine vertebrate record of the Prosanto Formation (Upper Austroalpine), so far precluded by the poor biostratigraphic control of the latter.

Editorial Handling: Daniel Marty.