Analogous to many Permian units globally, the Middle Permian of Oklahoma (Flowerpot Shale and Blaine Formation) contains voluminous fine-grained redbeds. These units have long been interpreted to record marine to marginal-marine deposition owing to minor evaporite/dolomite strata; this interpretation, however, disregards the predominant siliciclastic material. Siltstone predominates, and all siliciclastic material is of inferred aeolian origin owing to the fine and remarkably uniform grain size, internally massive structure, blanket-like geometry, and common palaeosols, especially in the Flowerpot Shale. Previously suggested alternative environments for such abundant fine-grained material, such as distal deltaic deposition, are inconsistent with the absence of key sedimentary structures (e.g., graded beds), associated facies (e.g., channelised units), and vertical or lateral trends (e.g., upward coarsening). The minor claystone and associated evaporite and dolomite facies of the Blaine Formation exhibit evidence for subaqueous deposition, but with aeolian delivery of the siliciclastic component. An aeolian dust origin for the siliciclastic material reinforces the interpretation of generally semiarid conditions for this equatorial region of western Pangaea. Whole-rock geochemical and detrital-zircon geochronological data on the siliciclastic units indicate a mixed provenance that includes a mafic component exhibiting a composition similar to reference populations from the Ouachita orogen. The dominant zircon populations reflect transport from easterly/southeasterly directions, with fewer grains likely derived from basement located to the west. Combining an aeolian delivery with the provenance signal indicates predominant equatorial easterlies during deposition of the study units, and subordinate westerlies, consistent with Pangaean monsoonal circulation. Permian redbeds preserved in many parts of former low-latitude Pangaea bear attributes similar to those of the units documented here, suggesting a possible greater role for dust deposition during this time than previously appreciated.
- Detrital zircon geochronology