skip to main content

Title: Mantle control on magmatic flare-ups in the southern Coast Mountains batholith, British Columbia
Abstract The southern Coast Mountain batholith was episodically active from Jurassic to Eocene time and experienced four distinct high magmatic flux events during that period. Similar episodicity has been recognized in arcs worldwide, yet the mechanism(s) driving such punctuated magmatic behavior are debated. This study uses zircon Hf and O isotopes, with whole-rock and mineral geochemistry, to track spatiotemporal changes in southern Coast Mountains batholith melt sources and to evaluate models of flare-up behavior and crust formation in Cordilleran arc systems. Zircon Hf isotope analysis yielded consistently primitive values, with all zircon grains recording initial εHf between +6 and +16. The majority (97%) of zircons analyzed yielded δ18O values between 4.2‰ and 6.5‰, and only five grains recorded values of up to 8.3‰. These isotopic results are interpreted to reflect magmatism dominated by mantle melting during all time periods and across all areas of the southern batholith, which argues against the periodic input of more melt-fertile crustal materials as the driver of episodic arc magmatism. They also indicate that limited crustal recycling is needed to produce the large volumes of continental crust generated in the batholith. Although the isotopic character of intrusions is relatively invariant through time, magmas emplaced during more » flare-ups record higher Sr/Y and La/Yb(N) and lower zircon Ti and Yb concentrations, which is consistent with melting in thickened crust with garnet present as a fractionating phase. Flare-ups are also temporally associated with periods when the southern Coast Mountains batholith both widens and advances inboard. We suggest that the landward shift of the arc into more fertile lithospheric mantle domains triggers voluminous magmatism and is accompanied by magmatic and/or tectonic thickening. Overall, these results demonstrate that the magmatic growth of Cordilleran arcs can be spatially and temporally complex without requiring variability in the contributions of crust and/or mantle to the batholith. « less
; ; ; ; ; ; ; ;
Award ID(s):
2004618 1655152
Publication Date:
Journal Name:
Page Range or eLocation-ID:
2027 to 2041
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. Continental arcs in Cordilleran orogenic systems display episodic changes in magma production rate, alternating between flare ups (70–90 km3 km􀀀 1 Myr􀀀 1) and lulls (< 20 km3 km􀀀 1 Myr􀀀 1) on timescales of tens of millions of years. Arc segments or individual magmatic suites may have even higher rates, up several 100 s of km3 km􀀀 1 Myr􀀀 1, during flare ups. These rates are largely determined by estimating volumes of arc crust, but do not reflect melt production from the mantle. The bulk of mantle-derived magmas are recycled back into the mantle by delamination of arc roots after differentiation in the deep crust. Mantle-derived melt production rates for continental arcs are estimated to be 140–215 km3 km􀀀 1 Myr􀀀 1 during flare ups and ≤ 15 km3 km􀀀 1 Myr􀀀 1 during lulls. Melt production rates averaged over multiple magmatic cycles are consistent with independent estimates for partial melting of the mantle wedge in subduction zones, however, the rates during flare ups and lulls are both anomalously high and anomalously low, respectively. The difference in mantle-derived melt production between flare ups and lulls is larger than predicted by petrologic and numerical models that explore the range ofmore »globally observed subduction parameters (e.g., convergence rate, height of the mantle wedge). This suggests that other processes are required to increase magmatism during flare ups and suppress magmatism during lulls. There are many viable explanations, but one possibility is that crystallized melts from the asthenospheric mantle wedge are temporarily stored in the deep lithosphere during lulls and then remobilized during flare ups. Basaltic melts may stall in the mantle lithosphere in inactive parts of the arc system, like the back-arc, refertilizing the mantle lithosphere and suppressing melt delivery to the lower crust. Subsequent landward arc migration (i.e., toward the interior of the continent) may encounter such refertilized mantle lithosphere magma source regions, contributing to magmatic activity during a flare up. A review of continental arcs globally suggests that flare ups commonly coincide with landward arc migration and that this migration may start tens of millions of years before the flare up occurs. The region of magmatic activity, or arc width, can also expand significantly during a flare up. Arc migration or expansion into different mantle source regions and across lithospheric and crustal boundaries can cause temporal shifts in the radiogenic isotopic composition of magmatism. In the absence of arc migration, temporal shifts are more muted. Isotopic studies of mantle xenoliths and exposures of deep arc crust suggest that that primary, mantle-derived magmas generated during flare ups reflect substantial contributions from the subcontinental mantle lithosphere. Arc migration may be caused by a variety of mechanisms, including slab anchoring or slab folding in the mantle transition zone that could generate changes in slab dip. Episodic slab shallowing is associated with many tectonic processes in Cordilleran orogenic systems, like alternations between shortening and extension in the upper plate. Studies of arc migration may help to link irregular magmatic production in continental arcs with geodynamic models for orogenic cyclicity.« less
  2. Abstract We present >500 zircon δ18O and Lu-Hf isotope analyses on previously dated zircons to explore the interplay between spatial and temporal magmatic signals in Zealandia Cordillera. Our data cover ~8500 km2 of middle and lower crust in the Median Batholith (Fiordland segment of Zealandia Cordillera) where Mesozoic arc magmatism along the paleo-Pacific margin of Gondwana was focused along an ~100 km wide, arc-parallel zone. Our data reveal three spatially distinct isotope domains that we term the eastern, central, and western isotope domains. These domains parallel the Mesozoic arc-axis, and their boundaries are defined by major crustal-scale faults that were reactivated as ductile shear zones during the Early Cretaceous. The western isotope domain has homogenous, mantle-like δ 18O (Zrn) values of 5.8 ± 0.3‰ (2 and initial εHf (Zrn) values of +4.2 ± 1.0 (2 The eastern isotope domain is defined by isotopically low and homogenous δ18O (Zrn) values of 3.9 ± 0.2‰ and initial εHf values of +7.8 ± 0.6. The central isotope domain is characterized by transitional isotope values that display a strong E-W gradient with δ18O (Zrn) values rising from 4.6 to 5.9‰ and initial εHf values decreasing from +5.5 to +3.7. We find thatmore »the isotope architecture of the Median Batholith was in place before the initiation of Mesozoic arc magmatism and pre-dates Early Cretaceous contractional deformation and transpression. Our data show that Mesozoic pluton chemistry was controlled in part by long-lived, spatially distinct isotope domains that extend from the crust through to the upper mantle. Isotope differences between these domains are the result of the crustal architecture (an underthrusted low-δ18O source terrane) and a transient event beginning at ca. 129 Ma that primarily involved a depleted-mantle component contaminated by recycled trench sediments (10–20%). When data showing the temporal and spatial patterns of magmatism are integrated, we observe a pattern of decreasing crustal recycling of the low-δ18O source over time, which ultimately culminated in a mantle-controlled flare-up. Our data demonstrate that spatial and temporal signals are intimately linked, and when evaluated together they provide important insights into the crustal architecture and the role of both stable and transient arc magmatic trends in Cordilleran batholiths.« less
  3. Bulk-rock data are commonly used in geochemical studies as a proxy for melt compositions in order to understand the evolution of crustal melts. However, processes of crystal accumulation and melt migration out of deep-crustal, crystal-rich mush zones to shallower storage regions raise questions about how faithfully bulk-rock compositions in plutons approximate melt compositions. This problem is particularly acute in the lower crust of arcs, where melt reservoirs are subject to periodic melt extraction that leaves behind a cumulate residue. Here, we examine bulk-rock data from the perspective of high-Sr/Y plutonic rocks in the lower crust of a well-exposed Early Cretaceous cordilleran-arc system in Fiordland, New Zealand. We test the validity of using high-Sr/Y bulk-rock compositions as proxies for melts by comparing bulk-rock compositions to melts modeled from >100 major- and trace-element analyses of 23 magmatic clinopyroxene grains from the same samples. The sampling locations of the igneous clinopyroxenes and encompassing bulk rocks are distributed across ~550 km2 of exhumed lower crust and are representative of Mesozoic lower-crustal arc rocks in the Median batholith. We confirm that bulk-rock data have characteristics of high-Sr/Y plutons (Sr/Y >50, Na2O >3.5 wt%, Sr >1000 ppm, and Y <20 ppm), features that have been previouslymore »interpreted to indicate the presence of garnet as a residual or fractionating phase. In contrast to bulk rocks, igneous clinopyroxenes have low Sr (<100 ppm), high Y (25–100 ppm), and low molar Mg# [100 × Mg/(Mg + Fe)] values (60–70), which are consistent with derivation from fractionated, low-Sr/Y melts. Chondrite-normalized rare-earth-element patterns and Sm/Yb values in clinopyroxenes also show little to no evidence for involvement of garnet in the source or in differentiation processes. Fe-Mg partitioning relationships indicate that clinopyroxenes are not in equilibrium with their encompassing bulk rocks but could have been in equilibrium with melt compositions determined from chemometry of coexisting igneous hornblendes. Moho-depth calculations based on bulk-rock Sr/Y values also yield Moho depths (average = 69 km) that are inconsistent with Moho depths based on bulk-rock Ce/Y, contact aureole studies, Al-in-horn- blende crystallization pressures, and our modeled clinopyroxene crystallization pressures. These data indicate that most Mesozoic high-Sr/Y bulk rocks in the lower crust of Fiordland are cumulates formed by plagioclase + amphibole + clinopyroxene accumulation and interstitial melt loss from crystal-rich mush zones. Our data do not support widespread fractionation of igneous garnet nor partial melting of a garnet-bearing source in the petrogenesis of these melts. We speculate that melt extraction and the production of voluminous cumulates in the lower crust were aided by unusually high heat flow and high magma addition rates associated with an Early Cretaceous arc flareup. We conclude that bulk-rock compositions are poor proxies for melt compositions in the lower crust of the Median batholith, and geochemical modeling of these high-Sr/Y bulk rocks would overemphasize the role of garnet in their petrogenesis.« less
  4. Abstract The Wrangell Arc in Alaska (USA) and adjacent volcanic fields in the Yukon provide a long-term record of interrelations between flat-slab subduction of the Yakutat microplate, strike-slip translation along the Denali–Totschunda–Duke River fault system, and magmatism focused within and proximal to a Cretaceous suture zone. Detrital zircon (DZ) U-Pb (n = 2640) and volcanic lithic (DARL) 40Ar/39Ar dates (n = 2771) from 30 modern river sediment samples document the spatial-temporal evolution of Wrangell Arc magmatism, which includes construction of some of the largest Quaternary volcanoes on Earth. Mismatches in DZ and DARL date distributions highlight the impact of variables such as mineral fertility and downstream mixing/dilution on resulting provenance signatures. Geochronologic data document the initiation of Wrangell Arc magmatism at ca. 30–17 Ma along both sides of the Totschunda fault on the north flank of the Wrangell–St. Elias Mountains in Alaska, followed by southeastward progression of magmatism at ca. 17–10 Ma along the Duke River fault in the Yukon. This spatial-temporal evolution is attributable to dextral translation along intra-arc, strike-slip faults and a change in the geometry of the subducting slab (slab curling/steepening). Magmatism then progressed generally westward outboard of the Totschunda and Duke River faults at ca. 13–6more »Ma along the southern flank of the Wrangell–St. Elias Mountains in Alaska and then northwestward from ca. 6 Ma to present in the western Wrangell Mountains. The 13 Ma to present spatial-temporal evolution is consistent with dextral translation along intra-arc, strike-slip faults and previously documented changes in plate boundary conditions, which include an increase in plate convergence rate and angle at ca. 6 Ma. Voluminous magmatism is attributed to shallow subduction-related flux melting and slab edge melting that is driven by asthenospheric upwelling along the lateral edge of the Yakutat flat slab. Magmatism was persistently focused within or adjacent to a remnant suture zone, which indicates that upper plate crustal heterogeneities influenced arc magmatism. Rivers sampled also yield subordinate Paleozoic–Mesozoic DZ and DARL age populations that reflect earlier episodes of magmatism within underlying accreted terranes and match magmatic flare-ups documented along the Cordilleran margin.« less
  5. Abstract We investigated the interplay between deformation and pluton emplacement with the goal of providing insights into the role of transpression and arc magmatism in forming and modifying continental arc crust. We present 39 new laser-ablation–split-stream–inductively coupled plasma–mass spectrometry (LASS-ICP-MS) and secondary ion mass spectrometry (SIMS) 206Pb/238U zircon and titanite dates, together with titanite geochemistry and temperatures from the lower and middle crust of the Mesozoic Median Batholith, New Zealand, to (1) constrain the timing of Cretaceous arc magmatism in the Separation Point Suite, (2) document the timing of titanite growth in low- and high-strain deformational fabrics, and (3) link spatial and temporal patterns of lithospheric-scale transpressional shear zone development to the Cretaceous arc flare-up event. Our zircon results reveal that Separation Point Suite plutonism lasted from ca. 129 Ma to ca. 110 Ma in the middle crust of eastern and central Fiordland. Deformation during this time was focused into a 20-km-wide, arc-parallel zone of deformation that includes previously unreported segments of a complex shear zone that we term the Grebe shear zone. Early deformation in the Grebe shear zone involved development of low-strain fabrics with shallowly plunging mineral stretching lineations from ca. 129 to 125 Ma. Titanites in thesemore »rocks are euhedral, are generally aligned with weak subsolidus fabrics, and give rock-average temperatures ranging from 675 °C to 700 °C. We interpret them as relict magmatic titanites that grew prior to low-strain fabric development. In contrast, deformation from ca. 125 to 116 Ma involved movement along subvertical, mylonitic shear zones with moderately to steeply plunging mineral stretching lineations. Titanites in these shear zones are anhedral grains/aggregates that are aligned within mylonitic fabrics and have rock-average temperatures ranging from ∼610 °C to 700 °C. These titanites are most consistent with (re)crystallization in response to deformation and/or metamorphic reactions during amphibolite-facies metamorphism. At the orogen scale, spatial and temporal patterns indicate that the Separation Point Suite flare-up commenced during low-strain deformation in the middle crust (ca. 129–125 Ma) and peaked during high-strain, transpressional deformation (ca. 125–116 Ma), during which time the magmatic arc axis widened to 70 km or more. We suggest that transpressional deformation during the arc flare-up event was an important process in linking melt storage regions and controlling the distribution and geometry of plutons at mid-crustal levels.« less