Hidden Archaean and Palaeoproterozoic crust in NW Ireland? : evidence from zircon Hf isotopic data from granitoid intrusions

The presence of major crystalline basement provinces at depth in NW Ireland is inferred from in situ Hf isotope analysis of zircons from granitoid rocks that cut structurally overlying metasedimentary rocks. Granitoids in two of these units, the Slishwood Division and the Tyrone Central Inlier, contain complex zircons with core and rim structures. In both cases, cores have average {epsilon}Hf values that differ from the average {epsilon}Hf values of the rims at 470 Ma (the time of granitoid intrusion). The Hf data and similarity in U–Pb age between the inherited cores and detrital zircons from the host metasedimentary rocks suggests local contamination during intrusion rather than transport of the grains from the source region at depth. Rims from the Slishwood Division intrusions have average {epsilon}Hf470 values of –7.7, consistent with a derivation from juvenile Palaeoproterozoic crust, such as the Annagh Gneiss Complex or Rhinns Complex of NW Ireland, implying that the deep crust underlying the Slishwood Division is made of similar material. Rims from the Tyrone Central Inlier have extremely negative {epsilon}Hf470 values of approximately –39. This isotopic signature requires an Archaean source, suggesting rocks similar to the Lewisian Complex of Scotland, or sediment derived wholly from it, occurs at depth in NW Ireland.


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Authors: Flowerdew, M.J., Chew, D.M., Daly, J.S., Millar, I.L.

1 January, 2009
Geological Magazine / 146
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