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This paper is included in the Special Publication entitled 'Dating and duration of fluid flow and fluid-rock interaction', edited by J. Parnell. Feldspar is a common authigenic constituent in Permian carbonate rocks which occur as tectonically isolated blocks within the evaporitic Haselgebirge melange in the Northern Calcareous Alps (NCA). Coexisting with pyrite, anhydrite, (saddle) dolomite, magnesite, fluorite and calcite, K-feldspar and minor albite record an event of regionally extensive interaction of hot brines with carbonate rocks. Detailed petrographic, crystallographic and geochemical studies reveal a variability in crystal size and shape, Al-Si ordering, elemental and stable isotopic compositions of the K-feldspar, which is only partially consistent with the traditional view of authigenic feldspar as a well-ordered, compositionally pure mineral. 40Ar-39Ar step- heating measurements of authigenic potassium feldspar from several localities yield two age populations, an older one of 145-154 Ma, and a younger one of c.90-97 Ma. Most age spectra reflect cooling through the argon retention temperature interval, which was rapid in some localities (as indicated by plateau ages) and slower in others. Rb-Sr isotope data are more difficult to interpret, because in many K-feldspar samples they are controlled largely by Sr-bearing inclusions. The Jurassic 40Ar-39Ar dates are interpreted as minimum ages of feldspar growth and hence imply that fluid-rock interaction is likely to be simultaneous with or to slightly predate melange formation. Deformation associated with the closure and subduction of the Meliata-Hallstatt ocean south of the NCA during the Upper Jurassic is regarded as the principal geodynamic driving force for both enhanced fluid circulation and melange formation. Some localities were reheated beyond the argon retention temperature for microcline during mid-Cretaceous nappe stacking of the NCA, thus obliterating the older signal.
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Authigenic potassium feldspar: a tracer for the timing of palaeofluid flow in carbonate rocks, Northern Calcareous Alps, Austria