Precambrian mafic magmatism in the Western Dharwar Craton, Southern India
AbstractMafic rocks of Western Dharwar Craton (WDC) belong to two greenstone cycles of Sargur Group (3.1-3.3 Ga) and Dharwar Supergroup (2.6-2.8 Ga), belonging to different depositional environments. Proterozoic mafic dyke swarms (2.4, 2.0-2.2 and 1.6 Ga) constitute the third important cycle. Mafic rocks of Sargur Group mainly constitute a komatiitic-tholeiite suite, closely associated with layered basic-ultrabasic complexes. They form linear ultramaficmafic belts, and scattered enclaves associated with orthoquartzite-carbonate-pelite-BIF suite. Since the country rocks of Peninsular Gneiss intrude these rocks and dismember them, stratigraphy of Sargur Group is largely conceptual and its tectonic environment speculative. It is believed that the Sargur tholeiites are not fractionated from komatiites, but might have been generated and evolved from a similar mantle source at shallower depths. The layered basic-ultrabasic complexes are believed to be products of fractionation from tholeiitic parent magma. The Dharwar mafic rocks are essentially a bimodal basalt-rhyolite association that is dominated by Fe-rich and normal tholeiites. Calc-alkaline basalts and andesites are nearly absent, but reference to their presence in literature pertains mainly to carbonated, spilitized and altered tholeiitic suites. Geochemical discrimination diagrams of Dharwar lavas favour island arc settings that include fore-, intra- and back-arcs. The Dharwar mafic rocks are possibly derived by partial melting of a lherzolite mantle source and involved in fractionation of olivine and pyroxene followed by plagioclase. Distinctive differences in the petrography and geochemistry of mafic rocks across regional unconformities between Sargur Group and Dharwar Supergroup provide clinching evidences in favour of distinguishing two greenstone cycles in the craton. This has also negated the earlier preliminary attempts to lump together all mafic volcanics into a single contemporaneous suite, leading to erroneous interpretations. After giving allowances for differences in depositional and tectonic settings, the chemical distinction between Sargur and Dharwar mafic suites throws light on secular variations and crustal evolution. Proterozoic mafic dyke swarms of three major periods (2.4, 2.0-2.2 and 1.6 Ga) occur around Tiptur and Hunsur. The dykes also conform to the regional metamorphic gradient, with greenschist facies in the north and granulite facies in the south, resulting from the tilt of the craton towards north, exposing progressively deeper crustal levels towards the south. The low-grade terrain in the north does not have recognizable swarms, but the Tiptur swarm consists essentially of amphibolites and Hunsur swarm mainly of basic granulites, all of them preserving cross-cutting relations with host rocks, chilled margins and relict igneous textures. There are also younger dolerite dykes scattered throughout the craton that are unaffected by this metamorphic zonation. Large-scale geochemical, geochronological and palaeomagnetic data acquisition through state-of-the-art instrumentation is urgently needed in the Dharwar craton to catch up with contemporary advancements in the classical greenstone terrains of the world.
Ramakrishnan, M. (2009) Precambrian mafic magmatism in the Western Dharwar Craton, Southern India Journal of the Geological Society of India, 73 (1). pp. 101-116. ISSN 0016-7622