Abstract

In a suite of Archean mafic pillows from the Rouyn–Noranda region of Quebec's Abitibi Greenstoné Belt, including both tholeiitic and calc-alkaline varieties spanning the prehnite–pumpellyite to upper greenschist metamorphic facies, three types of alteration can be defined: (I) chlorite–epidote–actinolite; (II) chlorite–epidote; and (III) chlorite ± sericite; the number of mineral phases decreases as a result of progressive hydration from type I to type III alteration. Albitization, resulting from substitution of graphic, in calcic plagioclase, is highly variable in type I alteration, but in types II and III the plagioclase is totally albitized and in some cases silicified. Chloritization is closely linked to increasing hydration and Ca leaching with MgO and FeO substituting for CaO in ferromagnesian minerals.Calcium was mobilized and carried by solutions, as evidenced by the variable concentration of epidote at the margins of pillows. This calcium leaching generated an excess of Al2O3 with respect to the combined molecular proportions of Na2O, K2O, and CaO, and is shown by the presence of corundum in CIPW norm calculations. In some pillows showing substitution of graphic, the fo2 of the invading fluid appears to have remained constant, being buffered by the pillow composition; this would be favored by a low water/rock mass ratio. As a result, the initial pillow Fe2O3/FeO ratio remained constant. In other pillows, the fo2 appears to have been imposed by the invading fluid rather than by the mineral assemblage: the FeO/MgO ratios are thus no longer representative of the magmatic composition whereas the ΣFeO/MgO is still representative of the pristine magmatic value.Two types of substitution of CaO by FeO and (or) MgO have been observed: (1) preferential substitution restricted to type I alteration, of FeO over MgO, similar to low-temperature substitution in modern-day sea-floor alteration; and (2) the more common substitution in type II and III alterations in which MgO predominates over FeO, similar to the high-temperature substitution taking place at great depth on the ocean floor.Although the samples were collected to test mineral heterogeneities caused by chemical degradation, more than 40% of the pillows sampled retained their pristine ΣFeO/MgO ratios. The various alteration patterns are independent of the initial tholeiitic or calc-alkaline lineage; this was confirmed using rare earth elements (REE) and inert trace elements such as Zr, Y, and Ti. The chemical changes in the mafic metavolcanic rocks do not obliterate their tholeiitic or calc-alkaline chemical affinities.

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