Abstract

The Kaap Valley pluton is one of several early Archean (3200-3500 Ma) tonalite-trondhjemite plutons that surround the Barberton Greenstone belt, southern Africa. Precise dating using single-grain 207Pb/206Pb evaporation of zircon and 40Ar/39Ar laser step-heating of hornblende and biotite indicates that, in its interior, the Kaap Valley pluton preserves a memory of its initial intrusion and cooling, which spanned a time from 3225 to 3142 Ma. The pluton also records the effect of a low-temperature thermal event at its margin as seen by a 40Ar/39Ar biotite age of 3035 Ma, which is perhaps related to hydrothermal activity and gold mineralization in the adjacent Barberton Greenstone belt. These pre-3000 Ma ages are not in agreement with results of dating studies from sedimentary rocks in the Barberton Greenstone belt and plutons south of the belt which show evidence of having been overprinted by late Archean events (2650-2700 Ma), and the Bushveld Complex intrusion (2050 Ma). These events have been interpreted as affecting most of the Kaapvaal craton. That the Kaap Valley pluton has escaped these and all other events since 3035 Ma with temperatures never reaching 250 °C implies that these large-scale events did not affect the entire craton and the overprinting seen elsewhere is of a more local nature. Thus, it is possible to determine the intrusive and cooling history of the pluton; these data can be used in developing models of heat flow, paleomagnetic remanence acquisition, and deformation events.

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