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Provenance, tectonic setting and source of Archean metasedimentary rocks of the Browns Range Metamorphics, Tanami Region, Western Australia

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This study combines U–Pb age and Lu–Hf isotope data for magmatic and detrital zircons, with whole-rock geochemistry of the Browns Range Metamorphics (BRM), Western Australia. The BRM are medium- to coarse-grained metasandstones that consist of angular to sub-rounded detrital quartz and feldspars with minor granitic lithic fragments. The sequence has undergone partial to extensive quartz–muscovite alteration and rare-earth-element mineralisation and has been intruded by mafic/ultramafic, syenitic and pegmatitic intrusive rock units. Uranium–Pb and Lu–Hf isotopic data on detrital zircons from the metasandstones and intruding granitic rocks yield a well-defined age of ca 3.2 to ca 3.0 Ga for all samples, with relatively radiogenic Hf values (Hf = –1.7 to 5.1) indicating derivation from Mesoarchean granite basement of juvenile origin. This is consistent with geochemical and petrological data that support deposition from a granitic source in a continental rift basin setting. The timing of sediment deposition is constrained between the ca 3.0 Ga age of the source rocks and ca 2.5 Ga age of the granitic intrusive bodies that cross-cut the metasedimentary rocks. The ca 2.5 Ga zircons from the intrusive rocks have Hf model ages of ca 3.4 to ca 3.1 Ga, which is consistent with formation via partial melting of the BRM, or the Mesoarchean granite basement. Zircons of the Gardiner Sandstone that unconformably overlies the BRM return detrital ages of ca 2.6 to ca 1.8 Ga with no trace of ca 3.1 Ga zircons, which discounts a significant contribution from the underlying BRM. The Mesoarchean age and isotopic signatures of the BRM zircons are shared by some zircon records from the Pine Creek Orogen, and the Pilbara, Yilgarn and Gawler cratons. Collectively, these records indicate that juvenile Mesoarchean crust is a more significant component of Australian cratons than is currently recognised. This work also further demonstrates that detrital minerals in Paleoproterozoic/Archean sedimentary rocks are archives to study the early crustal record of Earth.
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Keywords: Browns Range Metamorphics; HREE; Lu–Hf isotope; Mesoarchean; North Australia Craton; Tanami; U–Pb dating; Western Australia; arkose; zircon

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Economic Geology Research Centre, James Cook University, Townsville, Qld, 4811, Australia 2: Northern Minerals, PO Box 669, West Perth, WA, 6872, Australia

Publication date: August 18, 2017

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