Chemical and Nd Sr isotopic compositions of loess samples from Argentina, Europe and Spitsbergen were analyzed to examine the nature of source terrains, the origin of silt-size particles and the suitability of using loess as starting material for estimating the average chemical composition of the upper continental crust. From the relations between Na 2 O/Al 2 O 3 and K/ 2 O/Al 2 O 3 ratios and CIA values (chemical index of alteration), the loess protoliths must have undergone previous sedimentary differentiation and subjected to moderate chemical weathering. REE patterns are remarkably uniform with (La/Yb) N ≈ 10 , which is characteristic of the upper continental crust (UCC). Negative Eu anomalies, expressed in Eu/Eu * ratios, vary from 0.65 for European loess to 0.8 for Pampean loess from Argentina. All loess deposits have nearly constant La/Th or Th/U ratios, which are very similar to those of the average UCC or post-Archean shales. These ratios are not fractionated in size-fractions relative to the whole-rock values. Nd and Sr isotopic compositions clearly distinguish Argentinean loess ( 87 Sr 86 Sr = 0.706–0.709, ε Nd (0) = −6to−1.5 ) from all other loess deposits ( 87 Sr 86 Sr = 0.712–0.730, ε Nd (0) = −13to−8 ). The REE and isotopic results clearly indicate a significant contribution of young Andean volcanics to the Pampean loess deposits, whereas multi-recycled and well-mixed ancient sediments are principal sources for the other deposits. The present results reinforce the earlier conclusion reached by S.R. Taylor, S.M. McLennan and M.T. McCulloch (Geochemistry of loess, continental crustal composition and crustal model ages, Geochim. Cosmochim. Acta 47 (1983) 1897–1905) that the average chemical composition of UCC can be obtained from eolian deposits as well as from fine-grained clastic sediments.
Earth and Planetary Science Letters – Elsevier
Published: Mar 30, 1998
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