Contributions to Mineralogy and Petrology

, Volume 97, Issue 2, pp 183–195

Sm-Nd and Rb-Sr isotopic and geochemical systematics in Phanerozoic granulites from Fiordland, southwest New Zealand


  • M. T. McCulloch
    • Research School of Earth SciencesAustralian National University
  • J. Y. Bradshaw
    • Department of GeologyOtago University
  • S. R. Taylor
    • Research School of Earth SciencesAustralian National University

DOI: 10.1007/BF00371238

Cite this article as:
McCulloch, M.T., Bradshaw, J.Y. & Taylor, S.R. Contr. Mineral. and Petrol. (1987) 97: 183. doi:10.1007/BF00371238


Sm-Nd and Rb-Sr isotopic analyses are reported for granulite facies orthogneisses from Fiordland southwest New Zealand. Whole-rock samples define a Rb-Sr isochron age of 120±15 Ma and an initial 87Sr/86Sr ratio of 0.70391±4. ɛNd values (at 120 Ma) show a relatively wide range of from −0.4 to 2.7 indicating decoupling of Sr-Nd isotope systems. Associated ultramafic rocks have initial 87Sr/86Sr ratios of from 0.70380 to 0.70430 and ɛNd values of from 0.1 to 3.0. The different initial ratios suggest that the various intrusions, although contemporaneous, were not derived through fractionation of a single parent magma. A metasedimentary enclave incorporated during emplacement of the granulitic rocks preserves a Proterozoic isotopic signature with a measured ɛNd(0) value of −10.2, 87Sr/86Sr ratio of 0.73679 and a TNd provenance age of 1490 Ma. The Rb-Sr whole rock age of the granulites is the same as obtained from recent U-Pb zircon dating (Mattinson et al. 1986) and is interpreted as the time of magmatic emplacement and essentially contemporaneous granulite facies metamorphism. Rb-Sr and Sm-Nd analyses of mineral systems indicate that the terrain had cooled below ∼300° C by ∼100 Ma providing further evidence that high grade metamorphism was of exceptionally short duration.

Unmetamorphosed leucogabbros from the Early Cretaceous Darran Complex of eastern Fiordland have significantly higher ɛNd values (3.9 to 4.6) and slightly lower 87Sr/ 86Sr (0.70373 to 0.70386) than the western Fiordland granulites. This indicates that the western and eastern Fiordland complexes are not correlative although both have geochemical similarities to Phanerozoic calc-alkaline island-arc suites. The Fiordland granulites are LREE enriched (LaN/ YbN=12 to 40) and have trace element characteristics (e.g. high K/Rb and low Rb/Sr ratios) typical of many Rb-depleted Precambrian granulite terrains. The Fiordland trace element trends, however are attributed to magmatic, not metamorphic processes, reflecting the character of the Early Cretaceous magma sources. The range of ɛNd values, but uniform initial 87Sr/86Sr of the western Fiordland granulites is consistent with derivation of the parent Early Cretaceous magmas at least in part from a LREE enriched, low Rb/Sr protoliths of mid-to late-Paleozoic age. Partial melting of this protolith occurred during or immediately preceding a period of great crustal thickening culminating in rapid thickening of existing crust by ∼20 km following emplacement of the granulitic rocks. The rapid crustal thickening was probably a consequence of a collisional event in which an Early Cretaceous magmatic arc was over-ridden by one or more thrust sheets.

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© Springer-Verlag 1987