A detailed geochemical and isotopic study of Late Archean turbidites and volcanic rocks from the Yellowknife area, Slave province, was undertaken to constrain the nature of exposed crust at the time of 2.6 to 2.7 Ga crustal consolidation. The εNd(T) values of the volcanic rocks range from +1.7 to -4.4. This variation can be produced by assimilation of pre-2.8 Ga basement by a depleted mantle-derived magma, possibly followed by fractional crystallization. The turbidites are typically metamorphosed to greenschist to amphibolite facies, and where metamorphosed to greenschist facies, different units of Bouma sequence can be observed. The different units of Bouma sequence were sampled and analyzed separately to evaluate the possible differences in geochemical and isotopic signatures. The geochemical data presented here is in accord with the previously proposed model that argues for a mixture of 20% mafic-intermediate volcanic rocks, +55% felsic volcanic rocks, and +25% granitic rocks as a source of these turbidites. However, our revised calculation with the new data presented here argues for 1 to 2% input from an ultramafic source, as well as somewhat higher input from mafic-intermediate volcanic sources in the upper shale units compared to the lower sand units. The εNd(T) values of the turbidites generally are lower in the upper shale units compared to the lower sand units. Detailed inspection of trace-element data suggest that this is not an artifact of rare earth element-rich heavy minerals concentrating in the lower sand units of the turbidites, but rather is a result of 'unmixing' of detritus with different εNd(T) values during sediment transportation and deposition. The upper shale units of the turbidites are isotopically compatible with a derivation mainly from crustally contaminated volcanic rocks, similar to those exposed in the Yellowknife area. The lower sand units contain a higher proportion of westerly derived plutonic rock detritus, characterized by higher εNd(T), suggesting that there are area(s) west of Yellowknife not underlain by older (2.8-4.0 Ga) basement. The trace-element characteristics of these turbidites (i.e., Cr, Ni, La, Th, Sc, Eu/Eu(*), and Gd(N)/Yb(N)) are distinct from those of typical post-Archean turbidites. This observation is consistent with the models that predict that the chemical composition of the upper continental crust was slightly different in the Archean compared to post-Archean time.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Geochemistry and Petrology