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The Blue Tier Batholith, Northeastern Tasmania

A cumulate-like product of fractional crystallization

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The Blue Tier Batholith is one of a number of high-level, essentially postkinematic, composite granitoid bodies occurring at the southern end of the Tasman orogenic belt of Eastern Australia.

An integrated study of the structure, texture, and geochemistry of the batholith suggests that it has a cumulate-like character. In particular, the trace element (Ba, Rb, Sr) data, when constrained by textural features of the granitiods, indicate that the batholith formed by fractional crystallization of a single magma which underwent crystallization in situ by progressive nucleation and solidification from the roof, walls, and floor inwards. Progressive changes in liquids (cumulate) mineralogy during crystallization led to the observed sequence of early biotite and/or hornblende granodiorites followed by biotite adamellites and late muscovite biotite granites. Progressive in situ crystallization led in some instances to gradational boundaries between granitoid types whereas periodic tectonic distrubances caused the rest magma to reintrude earlier crystallizates in places: thus emplacement and crystallization sequences are parallel. The ultimate product of fractional crystallization was a water-saturated melt, enriched in incompatible elements, whose crystallization resulted in significant tin mineralization.

The chemistry of the rocks comprising the batholith is in many respects analogous to that of basic cumulate rocks, although an origin by outward growth of crystals and expulsion of interstitial melt, coupled with convective mixing, rather than by crystal settling, is favoured for the granitoid suite. It is suggested that the Blue Tier Batholith is not an isolated example of a granitoid body with cumulate-like character, but that such bodies may be more common than is recognized.

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McCarthy, T.S., Groves, D.I. The Blue Tier Batholith, Northeastern Tasmania. Contrib. Mineral and Petrol. 71, 193–209 (1979). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00375436

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  • Textural Feature
  • Fractional Crystallization
  • Biotite Granite
  • Progressive Nucleation
  • Outward Growth