An overview of the lithological and geochemical characteristics of the Mesoarchean (ca. 3075) Ivisaartoq greenstone belt, southern West Greenland

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

A. Polat, Robert Frei, P.W.U. Appel, B. Fryer, Y. Dilek, J.C. Ordonez-Calderon

In this review we summarize the major lithological and geochemical characteristics of the Mesoarchean (ca. 3075 Ma) Ivisaartoq greenstone belt, Nuuk region, southern West Greenland. In addition, the geological characteristics of the Ivisaartoq greenstone belt are compared with those of other Archean greenstone belts in the area. The Ivisaartoq greenstone belt is the largest Mesoarchean supracrustal lithotectonic assemblage in the Nuuk region. The belt contains well-preserved primary magmatic structures including pillow lavas, volcanic breccias, and cumulate (picrite) layers. It also includes variably deformed gabbroic to dioritic dikes, actinolite schists, serpentinites, siliciclastic sediments, and minor cherts. The Ivisaartoq rocks underwent at least two stages of postmagmatic metamorphic alteration, including seafloor hydrothermal alteration and syn- to post-tectonic calc-silicate metasomatism, between 3075 and 2961 Ma. The trace element systematics of the least altered rocks are consistent with a subduction zone geodynamic setting. On the basis of lithological similarities between the Ivisaartoq greenstone belt and Phanerozoic forearc/backarc ophiolites, and intra-oceanic island arcs, we suggest that the Ivisaartoq greenstone belt represents a relic of dismembered Mesoarchean suprasubduction zone oceanic crust.

The Sm-Nd isotope system appears to have remained relatively undisturbed in picrites, tholeiitic pillow lavas, gabbros, and diorites. As a group, picrites have more depleted initial Nd isotopic signatures (Nd = +4.2 to +5.0) than gabbros, diorites, and tholeiitic basalts (Nd = +0.3 to +3.1), consistent with a strongly depleted mantle source. In some areas gabbros include up to 15 cm long white inclusions (xenoliths). These inclusions are composed primarily (>90%) of Ca-plagioclase and are interpreted as anorthositic cumulates of the lower oceanic crust brought to the surface by upwelling gabbroic magmas. Alternatively, the inclusions may represent the xenoliths from older (>3075 Ma) anorthositic crust onto which the Ivisaartoq magmas were emplaced as an autochthonous sequence. However, no geological evidence has been found for such older anorthositic crust in the region. The anorthositic cumulates have significantly higher initial Nd values (+4.8 to +6.0) than the surrounding gabbroic matrix (+2.3 to +2.8), suggesting two different mantle sources for these rocks.

Original languageEnglish
Book seriesGeological Society of America. Special Papers
Volume440
Pages (from-to)51-76
ISSN0072-1077
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2008

    Research areas

  • The Faculty of Science - Archean, isotope, ocelli, anorthosite, pillow basalt, oceanic crust, greenstone belt

ID: 8439343