Abstract

The Dun Mountain ophiolite and overlying Maitai Group is discontinuously exposed for 480 km in South Island, New Zealand. Zircon U/Pb dates from plagiogranite are presented for relatively intact ophiolite, ophiolitic mélanges, and for more silicic volcanic-plutonic assemblages in the southern part of the belt where a typical ophiolite association is lacking. Step-wise dissolution experiments on slightly discordant plagiogranite zircon produce more concordant residues that indicate the zircons have lost from ∼1% to more than 5% of their radiogenic Pb relatively recently. High-precision 207Pb/206Pb dates establish the age of ophiolite formation for at least 350 km along strike to a narrow interval between about 275 and 285 Ma. The zircon U/Pb data confirm correlation of petrologically distinct segments of the Dun Mountain ophiolite and show that mafic-ultramafic ophiolite assemblages and moderately potassic high-level granitoids developed within a short time interval, probably during the extension of a volcanic-arc marginal basin.

Thick lenses of polymictic breccia and bio-clastic limestone of the Maitai Group locally rest in depositional contact on relatively intact ophiolite within the Dun Mountain ophiolite. Comparison of inferred biostratigraphic ages from the limestone with the ∼280 Ma ages from the plagiogranites indicate a gap of ∼20 m.y. following ophiolite formation. A granite clast from conglomerate higher in the Maitai Group yielded a near concordant U/Pb date of 265 Ma and provides a maximum age for this part of the sequence. Attenuation of the Dun Mountain ophiolite by extensional faulting and erosion may have occurred during the interval between ophiolite formation and Maitai Group sedimentation.

The Dun Mountain ophiolite and overlying Maitai Group are bounded to the west by Triassic and Jurassic volcanogenic sedimentary rocks of the Murihiku terrane, and in turn by the Brook Street terrane, which is interpreted as remnants of an early Permian oceanic arc. A hornblende gabbronorite associated with a layered mafic-ultramafic intrusion in the Brook Street terrane yielded a date of 265 Ma, significantly younger than Dun Mountain ophiolite. Such intrusions may represent the plutonic roots for ankaramitic volcanic rocks that comprise a conspicuous component of the Brook Street terrane, but which are not represented by detritus in the Maitai Group. Biotite granite occurs locally in the Brook Street terrane and is dated at 260 Ma. The absence of any clear stratigraphic correlation or provenance linkage between the Brook Street terrane and Dun Mountain-Maitai terrane suggests strike-slip displacements on intervening terrane boundary faults.

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