Magmatic response to the evolving New Zealand Margin of Gondwana during the Mid-Late Cretaceous
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameDoctor of Philosophy
The Mount Somers Volcanic Group (MSVG) and Mandamus Igneous Complex (MIC) are the magmatic manifestations of the transition from convergence to extension at the Gondwana margin, which culminated in the separation of New Zealand from Australia and Antarctica. The MIC has been correlated both geochemically and temporally with the Central Marlborough Igneous Province (CMIP). The MSVG and CMIP are located in the Eastern Province of New Zealand. The MSVG is restricted to the Rakaia terrane, whereas the CMIP is restricted to the Pahau terrane. The Rakaia and Pahau terranes are thick accretionary complexes, which were strongly deformed as a result of prolonged subduction at the Gondwana margin. The Pahau terrane is the younger of the two and continued to be deposited and deformed until the abrupt cessation of subduction, which in the Marlborough sedimentary record occurred in the Motuan (100 - 105 Ma). Following the cessation of subduction, after an interval of 2-7 Ma of relative quiescence and subsidence of the Pahau terrane, the MSVG and MIC were erupted/emplaced. The production of MSVG and MIC magmas occurred simultaneously and the activity was of short-lived duration. SHRIMP geochronology yielded crystallisation ages of 97.0 ± 1.5 Ma to 98.0 ± 1.2 Ma from zircons separated from MSVG rhyolites. The SHRIMP ages are within error of the previously published Rb-Sr age for the MIC. The SHRIMP geochronology also confirmed the presence of inherited zircons which yielded ages consistent with their derivation from the Rakaia terrane. Ar-Ar geochronology confirmed the coeval nature of the MSVG and MIC magmatism, but yielded consistently younger ages (94.5 ± 3 Ma for the MSVG and 94.2 ± 1.7 Ma for the MIC). The systematic differences in ages obtained by SHRIMP and Ar-Ar are believed to be method-dependent. The MSVG comprises a calc-alkaline volcanic assemblage, which ranges in composition from basaltic-andesite lavas (SiO₂ = 54.5%) to high-silica rhyolites and ignimbrites (SiO₂ ≤ 78.1%). The MSVG had an original extent of at least 18 000 km². The magmas from the MSVG had high LILE/HFSE, high LILE/REE and moderately high LREE/HFSE which are characteristic of subduction derived magmas. Geochemical modelling suggests that the MSVG magmas were formed from partial melting of a subduction-modified mantle wedge, with high degrees of crustal assimilation. The assimilant had an isotopic composition similar to that of the Rakaia terrane, which is consistent with the geological setting of the MSVG. The MSVG has ⁸⁷Sr/⁸⁶Sri from 0.7055 to 0.7100 and ¹⁴³Nd/¹⁴⁴Ndi from 0.51254 to 0.51230 (ɛNd +0.5 to -4.2), which reflects varying degrees of contamination by Rakaia terrane. Radiogenic isotope modelling suggests that the MSVG end-members were derived from the same parent magma, which evolved through AFC processes from basaltic-andesite to rhyolite. The modelling strongly suggests that assimilation played a lesser role in the petrogenesis of the Malvern Hills magmas than in the petrogenesis of the other units. AFC modelling requires the degree of assimilation to increase as the magmas evolved. Oxygen isotope data are consistent with high degrees of crustal assimilation, and may indicate that the assimilant had higher ¹⁸O characteristics than the Rakaia terrane samples analysed. The MIC is an alkaline suite which ranges in composition from basalt and gabbro to syenite, trachyte and phono-tephrite. The MIC is interpreted to have formed from enriched asthenospheric mantle, with a composition similar to HIMU (²⁰⁶Pb/²⁰⁴Pbi ranges from 19.2 to 20.3). The samples range in isotopic composition from ⁸⁷Sr/⁸⁶Sri = 0.7030 to 0.7036, ¹⁴³Nd/¹⁴⁴Ndi = 0.51275 to 0.51268 (ɛNd +4.6 to +3.3). The range in isotopic composition is due to varying degrees of contamination by Pahau terrane, which reaches a maximum of 25% but in most samples is < 10%. The MIC is contaminated to a much lesser extent than the MSVG which is interpreted to be related to the thinner nature of the Pahau crust in the mid-Cretaceous. The latest phases of activity in the MIC were subjected to lower degrees of contamination which is interpreted to reflect the passage of magmas through pre-existing pathways. The onset of MSVG and CMIP magmatism coincided with the initiation of major rift-related depositional basins, and the eruption of the MSVG is demonstrably associated with normal faulting. The tectonic trigger responsible for the sudden onset of magmatism and rifting in the Eastern Province terranes was the detachment of the previously subducting slab following the cessation of subduction due to the arrival of the Hikurangi Plateau at the margin and the subsequent stalling of the Pacific spreading centre. The capture of the Gondwana margin led to the propogation of extension into the margin by the divergent Pacific plate. The ensuing extension aided the detachment of the subducting slab beneath the Eastern Province terranes. The slab-detachment promoted decompression melting of the sub-lithospheric mantle wedge to produce the MSVG magmas and triggered the ascent of asthenospheric mantle through the slab window, which melted through decompression to produce the CMIP magmatism. The asthenospheric mantle tapped by the slab detachment episode was highly enriched relative to N-MORB and is akin to the similar age HIMU-OIB affinity melts documented from Antarctica and Australia. The short-lived duration of activity is typical of slab-detachment related magmatism which occurs as a passive response to plate reconfiguration. The similarity in geochemistry of the MIC with OIB-affinity igneous centres in Australia and Antarctica implies an enriched mantle domain of large geographical extent. The distribution of relatively small volumes of OIB magmatism is suggestive of a fossil plume component, which was tapped in response to lithospheric extension producing relatively short-lived HIMU magmatism. The same fossil plume component has previously been implicated in the formation of the Cenozoic West Antarctic Rift System and may be responsible for the late Cretaceous magmatism in the Chatham Islands and Tertiary volcanics of the South Island of New Zealand.