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REE chemistry and Sm-Nd systematics of late Archean weathering profiles in the Fortescue Group, Western Australia.

  • MacFarlane, A W1
  • Danielson, A
  • Holland, H D
  • Jacobsen, S B
  • 1 Department of Geology, Florida International University, University Park, Miami 33199, USA.
Published Article
Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta
Publication Date
Apr 01, 1994
PMID: 11539148


Two weathering profiles, each consisting of an upper, sericite-rich zone and a lower, chlorite-rich zone, are preserved between flows of the Mt. Roe Basalt in the Fortescue Group, Hamersley Basin, Western Australia. REE concentrations in samples from these two profiles, which originally developed ca 2,760 Ma, show large variations depending on stratigraphic position. LREE abundances and (La/Yb)N are greatest at depths of 3-6 m below the paleosurface of the Mt. Roe #1 profile and are somewhat lower in samples above this level. The LREEs reach concentrations 6-9 times greater than in the underlying basalt, and thus appear to have been mobilized downward in the paleosol and concentrated in its middle part. LREE concentrations in the #2 profile show a similar distribution but with a sharp increase in all REE concentrations within 50 cm of the paleosurface. The distinction between the REE profiles in the two paleosols may be related to the difference in the overlying material. The #1 paleosol is overlain by a few meters of sediments and then by basalt, whereas the #2 paleosol is directly overlain by basalt. The LREEs appear to have been mobilized both during chemical weathering of the parental basalt and during later lower-greenschist-facies metamorphism and metasomatism of the paleosols. Remobilization of the REEs during the regional metamorphism of the Fortescue Group is confirmed by a whole-rock Sm-Nd reference isochron of Mt. Roe #1 samples with an age of 2,151 +/- 360 Ma. Variable initial 143Nd/144Nd values of unweathered basalt samples which may represent the paleosol protolith prevents a confident determination of the magnitude of LREE mobility. Both the initial mobilization of the REEs during weathering and the metasomatic remobilization appear to have taken place under redox conditions where Ce was present dominantly as Ce3+, because Ce anomalies are not developed within the sericite zone samples regardless of concentration. Europium anomalies in the paleoweathering profile are somewhat variable and were probably modified by mobilization of Eu2+ at metamorphic conditions. In all samples, the HREEs appear to have been relatively immobile and correlate with Al, Ti, Cr, V, Zr, and Nb. Sm-Nd systematics and REE patterns of four unweathered basalt samples indicate derivation of the Mt. Roe Basalts from a heterogeneous and enriched source having epsilon Nd between -4.0 and -7.4. Initial 143Nd/144Nd values of these basalts are even lower than those reported by NELSON et al. (1992) for Fortescue Group basalts and indicate a substantial crustal component in the generation of Mt. Roe Basalts.

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