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Two subvertical gabbroic dikes with widths of ~ 350 m (East-Muren) and ≥ 500 m (West-Muren) crosscut continental flood basalts in the Antarctic extension of the ~ 180 Ma Karoo large igneous province (LIP) in Vestfjella, western Dronning Maud Land. The dikes exhibit unusual geochemical profiles; most significantly, initial (at 180 Ma) εNd values increase from the dike interiors towards the hornfelsed wallrock basalts (from − 15.3 to − 7.8 in East-Muren and more gradually from − 9.0 to − 5.5 in West-Muren). In this study, we utilize models of partial melting and energy-constrained assimilation‒fractional crystallization in deciphering the magmatic evolution of the dikes and their contact aureoles. The modeling indicates that both gabbroic dikes acquired the distinctly negative εNd values recorded by their central parts by varying degrees of assimilation of Archean crust at depth. This first phase of deep contamination was followed by a second event at or close to the emplacement level and is related to the interaction of the magmas with the wallrock basalts. These basalts belong to a distinct Karoo LIP magma type having initial εNd from − 2.1 to + 2.5, which provides a stark contrast to the εNd composition of the dike parental magmas (− 15.3 for East-Muren, − 9.0 for West-Muren) previously contaminated by Archean crust. For East-Muren, the distal hornfelses represent partially melted wallrock basalts and the proximal contact zones represent hybrids of such residues with differentiated melts from the intrusion; the magmas that were contaminated by the partial melts of the wallrock basalts were likely transported away from the currently exposed parts of the conduit before the magma–wallrock contact was sealed and further assimilation prevented. In contrast, for West-Muren, the assimilation of the wallrock basalt partial melts is recorded by the gradually increasing εNd of the presently exposed gabbroic rocks towards the roof contact with the basalts. Our study shows that primitive LIP magmas release enough sensible and latent heat to partially melt and potentially assimilate wallrocks in multiple stages. This type of multi-stage assimilation is difficult to detect in general, especially if the associated wallrocks show broad compositional similarity with the intruding magmas. Notably, trace element and isotopic heterogeneity in LIP magmas can be homogenized by such processes (basaltic cannibalism). If similar processes work at larger scales, they may affect the geochemical evolution of the crust and influence the generation of, for example, massif-type anorthosites and “ghost plagioclase” geochemical signature.


This article was originally published in Contributions to Mineralogy and Petrology. The full-text article from the publisher can be found here.


Contributions to Mineralogy and Petrology

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.


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