Crustal fluid contamination in the Bushveld Complex, South Africa: An analogue for subduction zone fluid migration
Crystallization of the 2.06 Ga Bushveld magma formed a 9 km (maximum) sequence of ultramafic and mafic rocks that generated a large volume of country fluid as it thermally metamorphosed a 3+ km section of previously unaltered underlying sedimentary rocks of the Transvaal sequence–a geometry similar to that seen as subducting lithospheric slabs are heated by overlying mantle rocks. The presence of a diatreme (breccia pipe) and other large, pipe-like features in the Bushveld Complex located proximal to diapiric upwelling of the basement rocks suggest that overpressured fluids generated during dehydration of the footwall sediments are focused by the diapiric structures such that the country fluids rapidly penetrate the Bushveld rock. A re-examination of existing stable and radiogenic isotopic evidence is consistent with contamination of Main Zone magmas by 1–2% country fluid. Numeric modelling of the footwall dehydration similarly shows that most of the country fluids will be confined to pipe-like channels as it percolates into the Bushveld sill. Modelling also suggests that the maximum extent of the metamorphic aureole was reached at about the same time that the Main Zone began to crystallize. It is proposed that rapid inflation of the Bushveld sill induced the sudden and catastrophic expulsion of overpressured country fluids to both generate the diatreme and contaminate the Main Zone magma, resulting in the Main Zone enrichment in crustal stable and radiogenic isotopic signatures (Sr, Nd, O and others). By analogy, it is also suggested that hydration melting in the mantle wedge is episodically driven by similar sudden influxes of slab fluids that are able to retain their geochemical and isotopic character by rapid channelled influx. This can be aided by flow focusing at diapirs structures at the upper slab-mantle contact.
Benson, E; Connolly, JAD; Boudreau, AE
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