Squire, Richard J.; Allen, Charlotte M; Cas, Raymond; Campbell, Ian; Blewett, Richard; Nemchin, Alexander
The thick piles of late-Archean volcaniclastic sedimentary successions that overlie the voluminous greenstone units of the eastern Yilgarn Craton, Western Australia, record the important transition from the cessation in mafic-ultramafic volcanism to cratonisation between about 2690 and 2655. Ma. Unfortunately, an inability to clearly subdivide the superficially similar sedimentary successions and correlate them between the various geological terranes and domains of the eastern Yilgarn Craton...[Show more] has led to uncertainty about the timing and nature of the region's palaeogeographic and palaeotectonic evolution. Here, we present the results of some 2025 U-Pb laser-ablation-ICP-MS analyses and 323 Sensitive High-Resolution Ion Microprobe (SHRIMP) analyses of detrital zircons from 14 late-Archean felsic clastic successions of the eastern Yilgarn Craton, which have enabled correlation of clastic successions. The results of our data, together with those compiled from previous studies, show that the post-greenstone sedimentary successions include two major cycles that both commenced with voluminous pyroclastic volcanism and ended with widespread exhumation and erosion associated with granite emplacement. Cycle One commences with an influx of rapidly reworked feldspar-rich pyroclastic debris. These units, here-named the Early Black Flag Group, are dominated by a single population of detrital zircons with an average age of 2690-2680. Ma. Thick (up to 2. km) dolerite bodies, such as the Golden Mile Dolerite, intrude the upper parts of the Early Black Flag Group at about 2680. Ma. Incipient development of large granite domes during Cycle One created extensional basins predominantly near their southeastern and northwestern margins (e.g., St Ives, Wallaby, Kanowna Belle and Agnew), into which the Early Black Flag Group and overlying coarse mafic conglomerate facies of the Late Black Flag Group were deposited. The clast compositions and detrital-zircon ages of the late Black Flag Group detritus match closely the nearby and/or stratigraphically underlying successions, thus suggesting relatively local provenance. Cycle Two involved a similar progression to that observed in Cycle One, but the age and composition of the detritus were notably different. Deposition of rapidly reworked quartz-rich pyroclastic deposits dominated by a single detrital-zircon age population of 2670-2660. Ma heralded the beginning of Cycle Two. These coarse-grained quartz-rich units, are name here the Early Merougil Group. The mean ages of the detrital zircons from the Early Merougil Group match closely the age of the peak in high-Ca (quartz-rich) granite magmatism in the Yilgarn Craton and thus probably represent the surface expression of the same event. Successions of the Late Merougil Group are dominated by coarse felsic conglomerate with abundant volcanic quartz. Although the detrital zircons in these successions have a broad spread of age, the principal sub-populations have ages of about 2665. Ma and thus match closely those of the Early Merougil Group. These successions occur most commonly at the northwestern and southeastern margins of the granite batholiths and thus are interpreted to represent resedimented units dominted by the stratigraphically underlying packages of the Early Merougil Group. The Kurrawang Group is the youngest sedimentary units identified in this study and is dominated by polymictic conglomerate with clasts of banded iron formation (BIF), granite and quartzite near the base and quartz-rich sandstone units containing detrital zircons aged up to 3500. Ma near the top. These units record provenance from deeper and/or more-distal sources. We suggest here that the principal driver for the major episodes of volcanism, sedimentation and deformation associated with basin development was the progressive emplacement of large granite batholiths. This interpretation has important implication for palaeogeographic and palaeotectonic evolution of all late-Archean terranes around the world.
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