Age constraints for the thermal evolution and erosional history of the central European Variscan belt: new data from the sediments and basement of the Carboniferous foreland basin in western Poland

<p>Three Carboniferous-age detrital muscovites from the Variscan foreland basin of SW Poland and two muscovites from phyllites underlying the basement have been dated by the <sup>40</sup>Ar/<sup>39</sup>Ar step-heating and single-crystal laser fusion method. <sup>40</sup>Ar/<sup>39</sup>Ar analysis of the detrital micas defines step-heating preferred ages of 370.7 ± 1.4, 363.0 ± 1.9 and 355.0 ± 1.3 Ma. Single-crystal laser fusion data indicate little dispersion for the first of three samples, with an integrated age that closely matches the step-heating data, but the latter two describe inhomogeneous populations. The white mica concentrate from one phyllite yields a step-heating preferred age of 358.6 ± 1.8 Ma. The second phyllite sample displays an incremental discordant apparent age spectrum representing a mixture of white mica grains of varying ages. Our most important finding is that the Variscan foreland basin was supplied by source rocks that were exhumed and cooled in the Late Devonian, probably as a result of an early Variscan collisional event, previously largely undocumented. Although accessible exposures of the Variscan basement in SW Poland exhibit only a minor component of rocks exhumed before the Carboniferous, our work suggests that large tracts of rocks with a Devonian cooling signature are preserved at depth beneath the foreland basin. </p>