Contributions to Mineralogy and Petrology

, Volume 105, Issue 6, pp 715–730 | Cite as

Geochemistry and origin of Archaean quartz-cordierite gneisses from the Godthåbsfjord region, West Greenland

  • Robert F. Dymek
  • Michael S. Smith


We report new data on the major, minor and trace element compositions of metasedimentary quartzcordierite gneisses (QCG), an important member of the Archaean Malene supracrustal suite found throughout the Godthåbsfjord region of West Greenland. The analyzed QCG contain assemblages of quartz+cordierite+biotite±garnet±anthophyllite/gedrite±staurolite±sillimanite±plagioclase (with abundant accessory zircon, and minor rutile, monazite and allanite), and broadly resemble cordierite-orthoamphibole rocks found in a great number of other metamorphic terrains. Chemically, the QCG are characterized by: (1) high but variable SiO2 (59–87 wt%), relative enrichments in MgO, FeO, and Al2O3 (mg∼0.35–0.85), and depletions in Na2O, K2O and especially CaO; (2) low concentrations of Sc, Cr, Co, Ni, and Sr; (3) high concentrations of Y, Nb, Zr, Hf, Ta, Th, U, and REE (rare earth elements)-with prominent negative Eu-anomalies in each case; (5) high concentrations of Ga (18–55 ppm), with variable Ga/Al ratios that are significantly higher than average crustal material. Low Cr and Ni, together with enriched and fractionated REE (displaying negative Eu-anomalies), distinguish the Malene QCG from published accounts of most other Archaean sedimentary rocks. Furthermore, all of the above-mentioned trace element characteristics distinguish the QCG from “ordinary” Malene clastic metasediments (quartzites, psammites, and pelites), suggesting a separate origin for the QCG. These data point towards chemically evolved felsic igneous rocks being the source of the QCG. Consequently, we propose that the Malene QCG represent metamorphosed felsic volcaniclastic sediments that underwent hydrothermal alteration by heated seawater prior to metamorphism, which resulted in gain of Mg (and Fe?), loss of alkalis and lime, and possibly Eu and Sr. The overall trace-element characteristics of the QCG (elevated Ga, Zr, Nb, REE, etc.) are features shared by A-type granites and their volcanic equivalents. Such igneous rocks may represent the ultimate source material for the QCG protolith.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert F. Dymek
    • 1
  • Michael S. Smith
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Earth & Planetary SciencesWashington UniversitySt. LouisUSA

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