Lithogeochemistry as a tracer of the tectonic setting, lateral integrity and mineralization of a highly metamorphosed Mesoproterozoic volcanic arc sequence on the eastern margin of the Namaqua Province, South Africa

Russell Bailie, Jens Gutzmer, Hariharan M. Rajesh

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22 Citations (Scopus)


The Areachap Group represents the medium- to high-grade metamorphic and deformed remnants of a Mesoproterozoic (ca. 1.24-1.30. Ga) volcanic arc that was accreted onto the western margin of the Kaapvaal Craton during the early stages of the Namaqua-Natal Orogeny. Few regional geochemical studies of the succession have been undertaken and despite recent geochronological work from throughout the outcrop belt there is still uncertainty as to the lateral integrity and correlation of the succession from one area to another. This uncertainty has been aided by minimal outcrop and extensive deformation and dislocation of one area from another. This study uses trace element geochemistry combined with Sm-Nd-isotopic data from the northern and southern ends of the succession to test its lateral integrity. Minor differences, including the abundance of certain lithologies, varying influences of a crustal component and differences in age between different areas are apparent, but the succession, as a whole, displays lateral integrity as a continental island arc. All lithologies are characterised by enrichment in Th, U, Pb and the large ion lithophile elements relative to primitive mantle, along with Nb-Ta depletion relative to La, and strong light rare earth element (LREE) enrichment relative to heavy REE depletion, which, along with positive εNd(t) values of mafic gneisses from both ends of the succession, indicates mantle-derivation within a subduction-related environment with a substantial amount of crustal assimilation. Despite some minor geochemical and isotopic differences in the lithological architecture on a local scale the Areachap Group exhibits coherent geochemical characteristics along its entire strike length. Localised remobilization of elements, particularly in areas characterised by granulite grade metamorphism, as well as in the altered footwall zones of volcanogenic massive sulphide lenses, is present. These alteration trends, along with primary geochemical signatures are remarkably well preserved despite the high grade of metamorphism, as illustrated in clearly defined hydrothermal alteration trends on the alteration box plot, and serves as an efficient tool to delineate areas that have undergone hydrothermal alteration spatially associated with massive sulphide ore bodies. The systematic association of hydrothermal alteration and sulphide ore bodies provides support for the isochemical character of rock compositions during high-grade metamorphism and the lack of extensive post-metamorphic alteration processes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)345-362
Number of pages18
Issue number3-4
Publication statusPublished - Oct 1 2010


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geochemistry and Petrology

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