Evolution and emplacement of high fluorine rhyolites in the Mesoproterozoic Gawler silicic large igneous province, South Australia
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The Gawler Range Volcanics (GRV) and the Hiltaba Suite (HS) of South Australia form a silicic-dominated large igneous province (the Gawler SLIP) emplaced in an intracontinental setting during the Mesoproterozoic. Emplacement of the GRV lasted for a short period of time (~2 Ma), and can be separated into two main phases. The first phase (lower GRV) is composed of thick (≤3 km) sequences erupted from distinct centres, and includes small to moderate volume (up to >150 km3) felsic lavas, ignimbrites, and minor mafic and intermediate lavas. The upper GRV include extensive felsic lavas that are up to >1000 of km3 in volume and >200 km across. Using well preserved, quartz-hosted melt inclusions, we investigated the composition of the lower GRV, including major, trace, and volatile elements. The results indicate high concentrations of K2O (≤7–8 wt.%), rare earth and high field strength elements, and low concentrations of Ca, Mg, Ni, Cr, Sr and Ba in comparison with felsic continental crust. Overall, melt inclusion compositions match whole-rock geochemical characteristics. We demonstrate that the GRV magma was F-rich (≤1.3 wt.%), and had high temperature for a silicic magma. High F concentrations and high temperature would have resulted in lower than usual polymerisation of the melt and relatively low viscosity. These characteristics help explain how very voluminous felsic magma was erupted effusively and emplaced as lavas. Other intracontinental SLIP contain extensive felsic lavas and ignimbrites which appear to share similar geochemical characteristics. We also show that selective alteration caused depletion of whole-rock compositions in some trace elements, namely Pb, U, and Sn.
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