Resolving tectonic settings of ancient magmatic suites using structural, geochemical and isotopic constraints: the example of the St Peter Suite, southern Australia

A. J. Reid*, M. J. Pawley, C. Wade, E. A. Jagodzinski, R. A. Dutch, R. Armstrong

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    14 Citations (Scopus)


    Reconstructing ancient tectonic environments is inherently difficult and requires the integration of many datasets. Here we attempt to reconstruct the tectonic setting of a Proterozoic magmatic rock suite from the Archean to Mesoproterozoic Gawler Craton, South Australia. We evaluate previous models of subduction or non-subduction tectonics for the St Peter Suite through field observations coupled with geochemical and isotopic data. Field observations indicate the presence of mafic magma chambers, felsic plutons and zones of mixing represented by multiphase plutons and zones of magma transfer. Syn-magmatic and solid-state deformation fabrics suggest magmatism was associated with a compressional tectonic regime, at least during some stages of magmatism. Zircon U–Pb geochronology suggests magmatism occurred between ca 1633 and ca 1608 Ma, an interval of ca 25 Myr. Mafic rocks are tholeiitic and enrichment in high field strength and light rare earth elements supports a modified mantle source region. Mafic rocks have εNd1620 Ma values around 0, and zircon εHf(t) values around 4, supporting minor crustal contamination. Felsic plutons have a geochemical signature similar to average continental crust, εNd1620 Ma between –3.7 and 0.4, and zircon Lu–Hf isotopic compositions that yield to εHf(t) values between –1.8 and 7.7, suggesting they were derived from fractionation of enriched tholeiitic parent magmas. A model for the formation of the St Peter Suite that is most consistent with the available data is one that places the magmatism in a broadly continental magmatic arc setting, albeit one in which little or no Archean crust was involved. Potentially this magmatic arc could have been built on a thinned, or hyper-extended continental margin. The integration of structural, geochemical and isotopic constraints has provided a more holistic view of the St Peter Suite petrogenesis than previously available.Highlights Evaluation of models of subduction vs non-subduction tectonics for formation of Paleoproterozoic magmatic suite Evidence for syn-magmatic compression and mafic–felsic magma mingling Isotopically juvenile (Nd--Sr--Hf) with mantle-like zircon δ18O values Continental arc setting proposed, possibly on hyper-extended continental margin.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)31-58
    Number of pages28
    JournalAustralian Journal of Earth Sciences
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 2 Jan 2020


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