The petrogenesis of ultramafic rocks in the >3.7 Ga Isua supracrustal belt, SW Greenland
Thursday, 18 December 2014: 9:00 AM
Ultramafic rocks with MgO >25 wt.% are found as large slivers within the Eoarchaean Isua supracrustal belt. Some of these ultramafic bodies have previously been proposed to represent relicts of residual mantle. In this study we present new bulk-rock major, trace and platinum-group element data, as well as mineral chemistry for these rocks in order to constrain their origin. The ultramafic rocks form two distinct geochemical trends, which project away from local tholeiitic basalts and boninite-like volcanic rocks, respectively. The ultramafic rocks have FeOt contents of up to 16 wt.% and Al2O3 up to 11 wt.%, with abundant normative orthopyroxene (opx). Their trace element patterns are broadly parallel with the two types of volcanic rocks with which they are associated. All analysed rocks have fractionated chondrite-normalised platinum-group element patterns with relatively low Os and Ir abundances. The few spinel grains that were found to be potentially primary (Fe3+# <10) have Cr# of around 73 and most have Mg# of about 23. None of the above geochemical features are compatible with a residual mantle origin of the ultramafic rocks in the Isua supracrustal belt. Instead, these data suggest an origin of the ultramafic rocks by accumulation of mainly olivine+spinel during fractional crystallisation of the tholeiitic basalts and the boninite-like volcanic series, and possibly continued crystallisation of plagioclase (plag) ±opx to form the more Al-rich cumulates. Depending on the amount of accumulated plag and opx, the observed bulk-cumulate requires additional input from the evolving liquids to account for the elevated SiO2, Al2O3, TiO2, normative opx and the trace element abundances of the ultramafic rocks.