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Highly depleted cratonic mantle in West Greenland extending into diamond stability field in the Proterozoic

Bernstein, Stefan; Szilas, Kristoffer; Kelemen, Peter B.

This study presents electron microprobe data for dunite xenoliths from a lamprophyre dyke located on the island of Qeqertaa, West Greenland. The minimum age of this dyke is Palaeoproterozoic and it experienced amphibolite facies metamorphism and deformation during that era. The samples consist of nearly 200 xenoliths with a size range of 0.5-8 cm. These dunite xenoliths have olivine Mg#, that range from 80.3 to 94.6 (n = 579) with a mean of 92.6. Orthopyroxene is found in three xenoliths and garnet in five others. The latter suggests the depth of the Qeqertaa xenolith suite to be near the diamond stability-field, which is substantiated by the finding of diamonds in bulk samples of the Qeqertaa dyke. This further indicates the presence of a lithospheric mantle domain dominated by high-Mg# dunite to this depth in Palaeoproterozoic time. Cr-rich spinel, in the 0.1–0.2 mm size range, is found within and between olivine grains in individual xenoliths. These Cr-spinels yield Fe–Mg exchange temperatures of 400–600 °C. However, the presence of intermediate spinel compositions spanning the lower temperature solvus suggests that equilibration temperatures were > 550 °C. Fe3 +#, expressed as 100 × Fe3 +/(Fe3 + + Al + Cr), is shown to be a useful parameter in order to screen for altered spinel (Fe3 +# > 10) with disturbed Mg# and Cr#. The screened spinel data (Fe3 +# < 10) show a distinctly different trend in terms of spinel Cr# versus Mg#, compared to unmetamorphosed xenoliths in Tertiary lavas and dikes from Ubekendt Ejland and Wiedemann Fjord, respectively, also located within the North Atlantic craton. This difference likely reflects amphibolite facies metamorphic resetting of the Qeqertaa xenolith suite by Fe–Mg exchange. Given the similarity of the Qeqertaa xenolith suite with the Ubekendt and Wiedemann suites, in terms of their olivine Mg# and spinel Cr# distribution, high-Mg# dunite is likely to be an important component of the subcontinental lithospheric mantle beneath the North Atlantic craton and appears to have spanned a vertical distance of at least 150 km in this region, even during the Palaeoproterozoic.

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Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory
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April 23, 2013