Abstract

A discontinuous, elongate zone of mafic and ultramafic plutonic rock crops out in south-central Alaska for a distance of more than 1000 km. Intermediate- and detailed-scale geologic mapping, petrographic study, and compositional data suggest that the plutonic rocks are compositionally, petrologically, and mineralogically distinct from rocks in mid-ocean ridge and back-arc basin ophiolites. The mafic and ultramafic rocks instead represent part of the plutonic core of an intraoceanic island arc.The mafic–ultramafic zone, referred to as the Border Ranges ultramafic and mafic complex (BRUMC), is composed of ultramafic cumulates, gabbronorite cumulates, and massive gabbronorites. A very minor amount of tectonized ultramafic rock of mantle origin is present in the southern part of the BRUMC. A thick sequence of andesitic volcanic rocks, the Talkeetna Formation of Early Jurassic age, lies to the north of and structurally above the mafic–ultramafic zone. Voluminous calcalkaline plutons composed of quartz diorite, tonalite, and minor granodiorite intrude both the mafic plutonic complexes and the andesitic volcanic rocks.The cumulate ultramafic sections are largely composed of dunite ± chromite, wehrlite, clinopyroxenite, and websterite and are characterized by a wide range of Mg–Fe silicate compositions (Fo90–81; En45–50, Fs1–7, Wo45–49; En88–82, Fs11–17), chrome-rich spinels, and a lack of plagioclase. The gabbroic sections are composed of gabbronorites with up to 10–15% magnetite ± ilmenite. Hornblende, if present, is a very minor phase in most gabbroic rocks. The coexisting mineral compositions seen in the gabbroic rocks of the BRUMC (relatively iron-rich pyroxene—Fs6–13, En45–40; En81–63 —and calcic plagioclase An75–100) and their association with magnetite are common in plutonic xenoliths in island-arc rocks.The mineralogy and composition of the gabbroic rocks in the BRUMC are consistent with the fractional crystallization products predicted to be associated with the formation of andesite from a basaltic magma. Consideration of additional data, including detailed and regional field mapping of the plutonic and volcanic rocks and geochronology of the BRUMC and the nearby Talkeetna arc volcanic rocks, strongly suggests that the BRUMC represents relatively deep fractional crystallization products of magmas that produced the Talkeetna Formation volcanic rocks. Field relationships also indicate that intrusion of quartz diorites, tonalites, and granodiorites of batholithic proportions occurred slightly later than formation of the BRUMC.

You do not currently have access to this article.