Abstract

The Wolf Creek ultramafic bodies of the southern Ruby Range, southwest Montana, intruded as high-temperature magma during the late stages of an Early Proterozoic orogeny affecting the Great Falls Tectonic Zone of the western Wyoming craton. Field and petrologic evidence indicate high-temperature metamorphism and deformation uniquely affected metapelitic anatectites adjacent to the ultramafic bodies. Leucosomes are mesoperthite and quartz with garnet. Restite contains sillimanite, garnet, quartz, microcline, and biotite that was partially resorbed by the melt-producing reaction. Late cordierite and sillimanite replace garnet in the migmatites and other pelitic gneiss in the area. Petrogenic grids for the Na2O–CaO–K2O–FeO–MgO–Al2O3–SiO2–H2O (NCKFMASH) system indicate that conditions during anatexis were 750–800 °C, 600–900 MPa. Anatexis occurred during deformation of metapelites and associated rocks adjacent to the larger ultramafic bodies, but crystallization and cooling occurred after deformation, as indicated by the preservation of igneous textures and mesoperthite with undeformed lamellae in the leucosome. Element mapping of monazite using electron-probe micro-analysis (EPMA) identifies four distinct chemical domains of monazite growth during the orogenic event in addition to relict, Archaean to earliest Proterozoic cores. U–Th–Pb dating of the domains establishes two periods of growth of matrix monazite in the paleosome that indicate fabric-forming prograde metamorphism at 1829 ± 17 and 1805 ± 4 Ma (2σ). Coarser, igneous monazites from the leucosome also contain two distinct chemical zones visible in yttrium maps, indicating growth with garnet and then during garnet resorption as decompression led to replacement of garnet by cordierite. The domain ages cannot be statistically distinguished. Together they yield an age of 1782 ± 9 Ma (2σ). The data imply that regional thickening leading to upper amphibolite facies metamorphism occurred prior to 1800 Ma. Thickening was followed after ∼25 Ma by the intrusion of ultramafic magmas, contact anatexis, and then decompression. This sequence is consistent with mantle delamination after orogenic thickening.

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