The origin and compositions of Mesoarchean oceanic crust: Evidence from the 3075 Ma Ivisaartoq greenstone belt, SW Greenland

A. Polat, R. Frei, P.W.U. Appel, Y. Dilek, B. Fryer, J.C. Ordóñez-Calderón, Z. Yang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

91 Citations (Scopus)


The Mesoarchean (ca. 3075 Ma) Ivisaartoq greenstone belt contains well-preserved primary magmatic structures, such as pillow lavas, volcanic breccias, and clinopyroxene cumulate layers (picrites), despite the isoclinal folding and amphibolite facies metamorphism. The belt also includes variably deformed gabbroic to dioritic dykes and sills, actinolite schists, and serpentinites. The Ivisaartoq rocks underwent at least two stages of post-magmatic metamorphic alteration, including seafloor hydrothermal alteration and syn- to post-tectonic calc-silicate metasomatism, between 3075 and 2961 Ma. These alteration processes resulted in the mobilization of many major and trace elements. The trace element characteristics of the least altered rocks are consistent with a supra-subduction zone geodynamic setting and shallow mantle sources. On the basis of geological similarities between the Ivisaartoq greenstone belt and Phanerozoic forearc ophiolites, and intra-oceanic island arcs, we suggest that the Ivisaartoq greenstone belt represents a relic of dismembered Mesoarchean supra-subduction zone oceanic crust. This crust might originally have been composed of a lower layer of leucogabbros and anorthosites, and an upper layer of pillow lavas, picritic flows, gabbroic to dioritic dykes and sills, and dunitic to wehrlitic sills. The Sm-Nd and U-Pb isotope systems have been disturbed in strongly altered actinolite schists. In addition, the U-Pb isotope system in pillow basalts appears to have been partially open during seafloor hydrothermal alteration. Gabbros and diorites have the least disturbed Pb isotopic compositions. In contrast, the Sm-Nd isotope system appears to have remained relatively undisturbed in picrites, pillow lavas, gabbros, and diorites. As a group, picrites have more depleted initial Nd isotopic signatures (ε Nd = + 4.23 to + 4.97) than pillow lavas, gabbros, and diorites (ε Nd = + 0.30 to + 3.04), consistent with a variably depleted, heterogeneous mantle source. In some areas gabbros include up to 15 cm long white inclusions (xenoliths). These inclusions are composed primarily (> 90%) of Ca-rich plagioclase and are interpreted as anorthositic cumulates brought to the surface by upwelling gabbroic magmas. The anorthositic cumulates have significantly higher initial ε Nd (+ 4.8 to + 6.0) values than the surrounding gabbroic matrix (+ 2.3 to + 2.8), consistent with different mantle sources for the two rock types.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)293-321
Number of pages29
Issue number1-4
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2008


  • Anorthosite
  • Archean
  • Greenstone belt
  • Isotope
  • Oceanic crust
  • Ocelli
  • Pillow basalt

Programme Area

  • Programme Area 4: Mineral Resources


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