Age and Petrogenesis of the Qassiarsuk Carbonatite-Alkaline Silicate Volcanic Complex in the Gardar Rift, South Greenland

Tom Andersen
Laboratory of Isotope Geology, Mineralogical-Geological Museum, Sars gate 1, N-0562 Oslo, Norway

Abstract: The Qassiarsuk (formerly spelled Qagssiarssuk) complex is located in a roughly E–W trending graben structure between Qassiarsuk village and Tasiusaq settlement in the northern part of the Precambrian Gardar rift, South Greenland. The complex comprises a sequence of alkaline silicate tuffs and extrusive carbonatites interlayered with sandstones, and their subvolcanic equivalents, which represent possible feeders for the extrusive rocks. The Rb-Sr, Sm-Nd and Pb isotopic characteristics of 65 samples of extrusive carbonatite- and silicate tuffs and carbonatite diatremes have been determined by mass spectrometry. The Qassiarsuk complex can be dated to c. 1.2 Ga by Rb-Sr and Pb-Pb isochrons on whole-rocks and mineral separates, agreeing with previous isotopic ages for the volcanic rocks of the Eriksfjord formation in the Eriksfjord area of the Gardar rift, but not with previous, indirect age estimates of >1.31 Ga for assumed Eriksfjord equivalents in the Motzfeldt area further east. Recalculated isotopic compositions at 1.2 Ga indicate that the Qassiarsuk carbonatite- and alkaline-silicate magmas were comagmatic and derived from a depleted mantle source (ɛNd>4, ɛSr<−13, time-integrated, single- stage 238U/204Pb ≤ 7.4). The mantle-derived magmas were contaminated with crustal material, equivalent to the local, pre-Gardar granites and gneisses and sediments derived from these. The crustal component has a depleted mantle Nd model age of 2.1-2.6 Ga; at 1.2 Ga it was characterized by ɛSr = +76, ɛNd = −8.4, time-integrated, single- stage 238U/204Pb = 8.2−8.3. Strong decoupling of the Pb from the Sr and Nd isotopic systems suggests that the contamination happened only after carbonatitic and alkaline-silicate magmas had evolved from a common parent, by processes such as liquid immisicibility and/or fractional crystallization. Post-magmatic hydrothermal alteration (oxidation, hydration of mafic silicates, carbonatization of melilite) may have contributed further to the contamination of the carbonatite and alkaline silicate rocks of the Qassiarsuk complex.

Keywords: Gardar rift • Greenland • carbonatite • Rb-Sr • Sm-Nd • Pb-Pb

Mineralogical Magazine; August 1997 v. 61; no. 407; p. 499-513; DOI: 10.1180/minmag.1997.061.407.03
© 1997, The Mineralogical Society
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