Abstract

The Nellie intrusion is a thick (more than 4420 m) mafic to ultramafic layered intrusion with a radiometric age of ~1163 Ma. Rock types change abruptly with stratigraphic height and include norite, pyroxenite, gabbronorite, hornblende gabbro, gabbro, anorthosite, harzburgite, and lherzolite. Norite is most abundant, but gabbro and hornblende gabbro are locally abundant. Rare olivine-rich layers are also present. The general order of crystallization was olivine, orthopyroxene, plagioclase + clinopyroxene, and hornblende. Mg#'s, expressed as 100 Mg/(Mg + Fe), range from 76.3 to 85.8 for olivine, 56.7 to 84.9 for orthopyroxene, 62.5 to 90.3 for clinopyroxene, and 52.4 to 82.8 for amphibole. Mg#'s vary with height and display abrupt reversals, which indicate open-system addition of new mafic magma. Eleven cyclic units were identified on the basis of evidence for injection of basaltic magma; these can be grouped into three megacyclic units. The abundance of orthopyroxene, and mineral compositional evidence for Fe enrichment within cyclic units, indicates that parental magmas were subalkaline and tholeiitic. Plagioclase in equilibrium with olivine ranges from An65 to An46, which precludes an arc-related magma source. Although the intrusion is approximately coeval with Keweenawan magmatism and with emplacement of diabasic dikes in western North America, it is dissimilar in detail to both suites of rocks. Nevertheless, its composition and geophysical setting are consistent with emplacement in an extensional tectonic environment.

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