Significance of Epidote in Orbicular Diorite from the Grenville Front Zone, Eastern Labrador

J. Victor Owen
Department of Geology, Saint Mary's University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada B3H 3C3

Abstract: Orbicules in diorite from the Grenville Front zone of eastern Labrador are defined by shell structures alternately enriched and depleted in biotite, epidote and magnetite. Hornblende occurs locally in orbicule cores and the matrix, but not in the shells. The shells enclose plagioclase-rich (An40–45), leucodioritic cores containing biotite, epidote, magnetite and/or hornblende-bearing mafic clots. The matrix of the orbicules is mineralogically-similar to the orbicule cores, but is mesocratic, and contains relatively sodic plagioclase and accessory quartz and K-feldspar. In places, hornblende contains quartz oikocrysts, implying the resorption of early-formed clinopyroxene, and is rimmed by biotite and epidote. The latter phases also occur as inclusions in quartz-free hornblende interpreted to have crystallized directly from the magma. Epidote has a pistacite content of 21 to 26 and occurs as (1) tiny, idiomorphic crystals (‘epidote I’) enclosed by plagioclase or hornblende, and (2) relatively large (to 1 mm) grains with vermicular textures (‘epidote II’), particularly where in mutual contact with biotite (or hornblende) and plagioclase. These microstructures suggest that epidote is a magmatic phase which formed by direct crystallization from the magma, and by reaction of previously-formed minerals with the magma.

The following approximate paragenetic sequence has been inferred for orbicule cores and the matrix: clinopyroxene (clinopyroxene resorbed [→ poikilitic hornblende]), epidote I, Ca-Na plagioclase, biotite, hornblende (biotite and/or hornblende ± plagioclase resorbed [→ epidote II]), quartz + K-feldspar. Biotite compositions became progressively more Fe-rich during crystallization (XMg ⋍ 0.6 → 0.4), and the first-formed plagioclase (inclusions in quartz-free hornblende in orbicule cores) is more calcic (An51) than the last (matrix grains: An35).

The appearance of epidote early in the crystallization history of the diorite testifies to elevated PH2O and PTotal (PT). The most aluminous hornblende indicates maximum PT of 5 to 6 kbar. Orbicule shell structures are interpreted to have crystallized from supercooled boundary layers enclosing water-saturated globules within the dioritic magma. Although sufficient to suppress the formation of hornblende in the shell structures, the extent of magma supercooling did not permit the development of comb layering in the orbicules. Supercooling is attributed to an influx into the magma of water from an unidentified source.

Keywords: epidote • diorite • orbicules • Grenville Front • Labrador • Canada

Mineralogical Magazine; June 1991 v. 55; no. 379; p. 173-181; DOI: 10.1180/minmag.1991.055.379.05
© 1991, The Mineralogical Society
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