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Meta-igneous (non-gneissic) tonalites and quartz-diorites from an extensive ca. 3800 Ma terrain south of the Isua supracrustal belt, southern West Greenland: Constraints on early crust formation

Journal Article


Abstract


  • In the Itsaq Gneiss Complex south of the Isua supracrustal belt (West Greenland) some areas of early Archaean tonalite and quartz-diorite are non-gneissic, free of pegmatite veins, and in rarer cases are underformed with relict igneous textures and hence were little modified by heterogeneous ductile deformation under amphibolite facies conditions in several Archaean events. Such well-preserved early Archaean rocks are extremely rare. Tonalites are high Al, and have bulk compositions close to experimental liquids. Trace element abundances and modelling suggest that they probably originated as melts derived from basaltic compositions at sufficiently high pressures to require residual garnet + amphibolites �� clinopyroxene in the source. The major element characteristics of the quartz-diorites suggest these were derived from more mafic magmas than the tonalites, and underwent either igneous differentation or mixing with crustal material. As in modern arc magmas, high relative abundances of Sr, Ba, Pb, and alkali elements cannot be generated simply from a basaltic source formed by large degrees of melting of a depleted mantle. This may indicate an important role for fluids interacting with mafic rocks in generating the earliest preserved continental crust. The high Ba/Th, Ba/Nb, La/Nb and low Nb/Th, Ce/Pb, and Rb/Cs ratios of these tonalites are also observed in modern arc magmas. SHRIMP U-Pb zircon geochronology was undertaken on seven tonalites, one quartz-diorite, a thin pegmatitic vein and a thin diorite dyke. Cathodoluminescence images show the zircon populations of the quartz-diorite and tonalites are dominated by single-component oscilatory-zoned prismatic grains, which gave ages of 3806 �� 5 to 3818 �� 8 Ma (2��) (quartz-diorite and 5 tonalites) and 3795 �� 3 Ma (1 tonalite). Dating of recrystallised domains cutting oscillatory-zoned zircon indicates disturbance as early as 3800-3780 Ma. There are rare ca. 3600 Ma and 3800-3780 Ma (very high U and low Th/U) ��� 20 ��m wide partial overgrowths on the prismatic grains. Given likely Zr-undersaturation of precursor melts and evidence of zircon recrystallisation and metamorphic regrowth as early as 3800-3780 Ma. the age determinations on the prismatic oscillatory-zoned zircon populations give the igneous crystallisation age of the tonalite and quartz-diorite protoliths. When the coherency of the geochemistry is considered, these samples represent the best preserved suites of ca. 3800 Ma felsic igneous rocks yet documented.

Publication Date


  • 1999

Citation


  • Nutman, A. P., Bennett, V. C., Friend, C. R. L., & Norman, M. D. (1999). Meta-igneous (non-gneissic) tonalites and quartz-diorites from an extensive ca. 3800 Ma terrain south of the Isua supracrustal belt, southern West Greenland: Constraints on early crust formation. Contributions to Mineralogy and Petrology, 137(4), 364-388. doi:10.1007/s004100050556

Scopus Eid


  • 2-s2.0-0033492548

Start Page


  • 364

End Page


  • 388

Volume


  • 137

Issue


  • 4

Place Of Publication


Abstract


  • In the Itsaq Gneiss Complex south of the Isua supracrustal belt (West Greenland) some areas of early Archaean tonalite and quartz-diorite are non-gneissic, free of pegmatite veins, and in rarer cases are underformed with relict igneous textures and hence were little modified by heterogeneous ductile deformation under amphibolite facies conditions in several Archaean events. Such well-preserved early Archaean rocks are extremely rare. Tonalites are high Al, and have bulk compositions close to experimental liquids. Trace element abundances and modelling suggest that they probably originated as melts derived from basaltic compositions at sufficiently high pressures to require residual garnet + amphibolites �� clinopyroxene in the source. The major element characteristics of the quartz-diorites suggest these were derived from more mafic magmas than the tonalites, and underwent either igneous differentation or mixing with crustal material. As in modern arc magmas, high relative abundances of Sr, Ba, Pb, and alkali elements cannot be generated simply from a basaltic source formed by large degrees of melting of a depleted mantle. This may indicate an important role for fluids interacting with mafic rocks in generating the earliest preserved continental crust. The high Ba/Th, Ba/Nb, La/Nb and low Nb/Th, Ce/Pb, and Rb/Cs ratios of these tonalites are also observed in modern arc magmas. SHRIMP U-Pb zircon geochronology was undertaken on seven tonalites, one quartz-diorite, a thin pegmatitic vein and a thin diorite dyke. Cathodoluminescence images show the zircon populations of the quartz-diorite and tonalites are dominated by single-component oscilatory-zoned prismatic grains, which gave ages of 3806 �� 5 to 3818 �� 8 Ma (2��) (quartz-diorite and 5 tonalites) and 3795 �� 3 Ma (1 tonalite). Dating of recrystallised domains cutting oscillatory-zoned zircon indicates disturbance as early as 3800-3780 Ma. There are rare ca. 3600 Ma and 3800-3780 Ma (very high U and low Th/U) ��� 20 ��m wide partial overgrowths on the prismatic grains. Given likely Zr-undersaturation of precursor melts and evidence of zircon recrystallisation and metamorphic regrowth as early as 3800-3780 Ma. the age determinations on the prismatic oscillatory-zoned zircon populations give the igneous crystallisation age of the tonalite and quartz-diorite protoliths. When the coherency of the geochemistry is considered, these samples represent the best preserved suites of ca. 3800 Ma felsic igneous rocks yet documented.

Publication Date


  • 1999

Citation


  • Nutman, A. P., Bennett, V. C., Friend, C. R. L., & Norman, M. D. (1999). Meta-igneous (non-gneissic) tonalites and quartz-diorites from an extensive ca. 3800 Ma terrain south of the Isua supracrustal belt, southern West Greenland: Constraints on early crust formation. Contributions to Mineralogy and Petrology, 137(4), 364-388. doi:10.1007/s004100050556

Scopus Eid


  • 2-s2.0-0033492548

Start Page


  • 364

End Page


  • 388

Volume


  • 137

Issue


  • 4

Place Of Publication