Earth Sciences Publications

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Gondwana Research

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The Bad Vermilion Lake Anorthosite Complex (henceforth, the BVLA Complex) in western Ontario is one of the well-exposed, anorthosite-bearing, Archean layered intrusions in the Superior Province, Canada. This study presents new whole-rock major and trace element data for the various units of the Complex, oxygen isotope data for the anorthosite, and major and trace element data for the spatially associated granitic rocks intruding the BVLA Complex to constrain their petrogenetic and geodynamic origin. Zircons from granitic rocks have yielded a 207Pb/206Pb age of 2716 ± 18 Ma, constraining the minimum intrusion age of the Complex. Despite deformation and greenschist facies metamorphism, primary igneous textures are locally well preserved in the BVLA Complex. Its whole-rock major and trace elemental compositions and the oxygen isotopic systematics appear not to have been substantially modified by deformation and metamorphism. Mantle-like oxygen isotope signatures and major and trace element compositions are inconsistent with significant crustal contamination of the BVLA Complex during its emplacement. The existence of primary calcic igneous plagioclase, coherent negative Nb anomalies (Nb/Nb* = 0.08–0.88), and geochemical similarities between gabbros from the BVLA Complex and gabbros from Cenozoic arcs collectively suggest an intra-oceanic subduction zone geodynamic setting for the Complex. Near-flat REE patterns in the various units of the BVLA Complex suggest that they were derived from melting of a shallow source beneath a subarc mantle wedge. Trends in immobile major (e.g.,MgO) and trace (e.g., Zr) element data indicate that the mineralogical composition of the Complex can be explained by fractional crystallization and accumulation of olivine, orthopyroxene, clinopyroxene, plagioclase and possibly amphibole. Compositionally, the bordering granitic rocks are A2-type and strongly enriched in Th and REE (>100 times chondrite) and depleted of Ba, Sr, Eu and Ti. We suggest that they formed in a post-collisional, extensional, tectonic regime following emplacement of the BVLA Complex in an oceanic arc.

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