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How Old is the Ordovician-Silurian Boundary GSSP at Dob's Linn, Scotland?
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  • Hector Garza,
  • Stephanie Suarez,
  • Elizabeth Catlos,
  • Michael Brookfield,
  • Daniel Stockli,
  • Richard Batchelor,
  • Kevin Chamberlain
Hector Garza
The University of Texas at Austin

Corresponding Author:hector.garza@utexas.edu

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Stephanie Suarez
University of Houston
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Elizabeth Catlos
Univeristy of Texas at Austin
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Michael Brookfield
University of Texas at Austin
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Daniel Stockli
University of Texas at Austin
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Richard Batchelor
University of St Andrews
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Kevin Chamberlain
University of Wyoming
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Dob’s Linn (Scotland) is a location that has significantly influenced our understanding of how life evolved over the Ordovician to early Silurian. The current chronostratigraphic boundary between the Ordovician and Silurian periods is a Global Boundary Stratotype Section and Point (GSSP) at Dob’s Linn calibrated to 443.8±1.5 Ma, partly based on biostratigraphic markers, radiometric ages, and statistical modeling. Graptolites are used here as relative dating markers. We dated hundreds of zircon grains extracted from defined metabentonites from six horizons exposed at Dob’s Linn using Laser Ablation Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry (LA-ICP-MS). Each zircon was imaged using cathodoluminescence, and most show igneous zoning with minimal alteration. Sample locations range from 42 meters above to 5 meters below the recognized GSSP for the Ordovician-Silurian. Samples were responsibly collected and analyzed for paleontology and geochemistry in other work. Overall, many 238U-206Pb zircon ages from the section are significantly younger than expected. The youngest zircon in sample DL7, located 5 meters below the GSSP, yielded a 238U-206Pb age of 402±12 Ma (±2s, 5% disc). Nineteen spots on zircons from this sample are younger than the presently assigned GSSP age, including more concordant results of 426±8 Ma (0.8% disc) and 435±5 Ma (0.2% disc). The youngest zircon in sample 19DL12, < 1 m below the GSSP, is 377±8 Ma (2% disc) with a more concordant age of 443±7 Ma (0.6% disc). A sample located directly on the GSSP (19DL09) yields 327±5 Ma (0.8% disc). Eight spots on zircons from this sample are also younger than the presently assigned GSSP age. We also dated two samples (DL24 and BRS23) 8 meters above the GSSP, and the youngest, most concordant zircon ages in these samples are 400±11 Ma (5% disc) and 421±9 Ma (0.4% disc), respectively. Overall, the U-Pb ages would re-assign the Dob’s Linn chronostratigraphic section to Silurian-Devonian. The young age results could be attributed to Pb loss due to hydrothermal alteration during the Acadian and Alleghenian orogenies. Future work will implement Chemical Abrasion Isotope Dilution Thermal Ionization Mass Spectrometry (CA-ID-TIMS) to obtain accurate U-Pb dating and evaluate the potential effects of Pb loss.