Geochemistry and petrogenesis of the McElroy and Larder Lake assemblages, Abitibi Greenstone Belt, Northeastern Ontario
Kimmerly, Christopher T.
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The McElroy and Larder Lake assemblages, located in the southern Abitibi Greenstone Belt are two late Archean metavolcanic sequences having markedly contrasting physical characteristics arid are separated from one another by a regional fault. An assemblage is an informal term which describes stratified volcanic and/or sedimentary rock units built during a specific time period in a similar depositional or volcanic setting and are commonly bounded by faults, unconformities or intrusions. The petrology and petrogenesis of these assemblages have been investigated to determine if a genetic link exists between the two adjacent assemblages. The McElroy assemblage is homoclinal sequence of evolved massive and pillowed fl.ows, which except for the basal unit represents a progressively fractionated volcanic pile. From the base to the top of the assemblage the lithologies include Fe-tholeiitic, dendritic flows; komatiite basaltic, ultramafic flows; Mg-tholeiitic, leucogabbro; Mg-tholeiitic, massive flows and Fe-tholeiitic, pillowed flows. Massive flows range from coarse grained to aphanitic and are commonly plagioclase glomerophyric. The Larder Lake assemblage consists of komatiitic, Mg-rich and Fe-rich tholeiitic basalts, structurally disrupted by folds and faults. Tholeiitic rocks in the Larder Lake assemblage range from aphanitic to coarse grained massive and pillowed flows. Komatiitic flows contain both spinifex and massive textures. Geochemical variability within both assemblages is attributed to different petrogenetic histories. The lithologies of the McElroy assemblage were derived by partial melting of a primitive mantle source followed by various degrees of crystal fractionation. Partial melting of a primitive mantle source generated the ultramafic flows and possibly other flows in the assemblage. Fractionation of ultramafic flows may have also produced the more evolved McElroy lithologies. The highly evolved, basal, dendritic flow may represent the upper unit 3 of a missing volcanic pile in which continued magmatism generated the remaining McElroy lithologies. Alternatively, the dendritic flows may represent a primary lava derived from a low degree (10-15%) partial melt of a primitive mantle source which was followed by continued partial melting to generate the ultramafic flows. The Larder Lake lithologies were derived by partial melting of a komatiitic source followed by gabbroic fractionation. The tectonic environment for both assemblages is interpreted to be an oceanic arc setting. The McElroy assemblage lavas were generated in a mature back arc setting whereas the Larder Lake lithologies were produced during the early stages of komatiitc crust subduction. This setting is consistent with previous models involving plate tectonic processes for the generation of other metavolcanic assemblages in the Abitibi Greenstone Belt.
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