Abstract

Handpicked, acid-washed diopside, orthopyroxene, and olivine separates from 14 lherzolite nodules from four localities in southern British Columbia have been analyzed for 87Rb/86Sr and 87Sr/86Sr. The host lavas, of late Cenozoic to Pleistocene age, are nepheline-normative alkali basalt and basanite with Sr and Nd isotopic ratios (0.7025–0.7029; 0.51310–0.51326) close to those of mid-ocean ridge basalt. The present-day Sr isotopic compositions of nodule diopsides (9–239 ppm Sr) are 0.7021–0.7041, similar to those of the host rocks. Orthopyroxene and olivine, however, have 87Rb/86Sr ratios of 0.1 to > 1.0 and much more radiogenic Sr (87Sr/86Sr commonly 0.708–0.720), and in several cases the three minerals form linear arrays in 87Rb/86Sr versus 87Sr/86Sr plots. If interpreted as mineral isochrons, these give dates from 99 to 1989 Ma; many cluster around 440–770 Ma. Four nodules from two localities (West Kettle River and Big Timothy Mountain) give dates of 1201–1989 Ma. Maximum dates for the other localities (Jacques Lake and Lassie Lake) are 600–650 Ma.87Rb/86Sr ratios for acid leaches of crushed and sieved nodule material are generally < 0.706, and 87Sr/86Sr ratios for the host rocks are < 0.703, so radiogenic interstitial material or host contamination cannot explain the high ratios observed in the low-Sr minerals. The acid leaches lie both above and below mineral isochrons, virtually never exactly on the isochrons, indicating that secondary material, not cogenetic with the nodules, is present along grain boundaries. Discordant mineral points lie as expected for partially reset old isochrons, with olivine most easily reequilibrated by Sr isotopic exchange with less radiogenic minerals, orthopyroxene next in changeability, and clinopyroxene least modified.The nodules cannot be cognate or related in any way to recent magma genesis. The radiogenic Sr in low-Sr minerals is due to in situ decay of Rb and thus the nodules are Proterozoic upper mantle, some of an age similar to the 1.7–2.3 Ga granitic basement that tectonically underlies southwestern Quesnellia in the same region containing the nodule-bearing vents. The 440–770 Ma isochrons are speculatively correlated with Late Proterozoic to early Paleozoic craton-margin-forming rift event(s). Pre-Phanerozoic mantle lithosphere extends as far west as the Okanagan Valley in southern British Columbia.

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