Abstract

The southernmost exposed rocks of the North American Midcontinent rift system (1100 Ma) consist of 3000 m of mafic volcanic flows and minor interflow sediment exposed along the St. Croix River in Minnesota and Wisconsin. The flows are mostly high-Fe tholeiitic basalt with plagioclase phenocrysts and ophitic to subophitic clinopyroxene. Abundant secondary chlorite, epidote, and actinolite indicate the group was metamorphosed to greenschist facies (~350 °C). Low sodium (M4 site) and tetrahedral aluminum (AlIV) contents of actinolite indicate low-pressure metamorphism (0.25 GPa) and imply a geothermal gradient of 45 – 50 °C/km. Low magnesium (Mg# = 0.37–0.58) and Ni contents (36–185 ppm) indicate the basalts have undergone significant fractionation and are not primary mantle melts. Incompatible element abundances are inversely correlated with Mg#, and most samples plot within either high or low trace element groups (e.g., Ti, P, Zr). The basalts are enriched in the light rare earth elements and Th, and are variably depleted in Ta and Nb relative to La and Th. Initial 143Nd/144Nd compositions of the group range from 0.51099 to 0.51122 (initial εNd = −4.5 to +0.1). Most flows have isotopic compositions within a relatively limited range (initial εNd = −2.5 to −1.6), but exhibit variable trace element abundances. Flows with the highest and lowest initial 143Nd/144Nd ratios have isotopic compositions that are inversely correlated with trace element abundances and ratios (e.g., La/Yb, Th/La, Th/Ta). The combined geochemical data suggest that the Chengwatana basalts originated from plume-derived melts and underwent variable fractional crystallization and crustal contamination. These melts may have interacted with lithospheric mantle enriched during Penokean subduction.

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