Carboniferous tonsteins (kaolinized volcanic-ash beds) of wide geographic distribution are known in both Europe and North America. Relict volcanic minerals common in these Euramerican tonsteins are volcanic quartz (including beta-quartz paramorphs), zircon and ilmenite; less common are magnetite, fayalite, rutile, monazite, xenotime, apatite and sanidine. Data for two relatively thick (3-13 cm) and widespread (>400 km) European tonsteins (Erda and Sub-Worsley Four-foot) indicate an increase in detrital quartz near the top of the beds which indicates mixing with normal clastic sediments, including the introduction of heavy detrital minerals (e.g., tourmaline and garnet). These thick tonsteins show multiple horizontal bedding, normal graded bedding, disturbed bedding, and centimeter-scale scour surfaces. The Fire Clay tonstein in North America represents from one to five separate volcanic air-fall ash deposits as determined by normal graded bedding and mineralogical analysis. These features indicate several episodes of volcanic-ash deposition and very localized subsequent erosion and bioturbation. Electron microprobe data from glass inclusions in volcanic quartz in Euramerican tonsteins indicate a rhyolitic origin for these tonsteins and reveal chemical "fingerprints" valuable for intra- and inter-basinal correlations. However, the tectonic framework for European and North American tonsteins was quite different. In Europe, volcanic-ash beds were associated with Variscan collisional tectonics, whereas in North America, volcanic ash was associated with Ouachita tectonic activity, explosive volcanism from the Yucatan block, collision between the South American and North American plates, and the formation of Pangea. ?? 1994.
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Euramerican tonsteins: overview, magmatic origin, and depositional-tectonic implications