Abstract

Komatiitic magmatism is a characteristic feature of Archean cratons, diagnostic of the addition of juvenile crust, and a clue to the thermal evolution of early Earth lithosphere. The Slave craton in northwest Canada contains >20 greenstone belts but no identified komatiite. The reason for this dearth of komatiite, when compared to other Archean cratons, remains enigmatic. The Central Slave Cover Group (ca. 2.85 Ga) includes fuchsitic quartzite with relict detrital chromite grains in heavy-mineral laminations. Major and platinum group element systematics indicate that the chromites were derived from Al-undepleted komatiitic dunites. The chromites have low 187Os/188Os ratios relative to chondrite with a narrow range of rhenium depletion ages at 3.19 ± 0.12 Ga. While these ages overlap a documented crust formation event, they identify an unrecognized addition of juvenile crust that is not preserved in the bedrock exposures or the zircon isotopic data. The documentation of komatiitic magmatism via detrital chromites indicates a region of thin lithospheric mantle at ca. 3.2 Ga, either within or at the edge of the protocratonic nucleus. This study demonstrates the applicability of detrital chromites in provenance studies, augmenting the record supplied by detrital zircons.

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