Seven granite plutons, spatially and genetically related to tin metalization, are exposed in a 170-km-long belt across northwestern Seward Peninsula, Alaska. These plutons are cupolas and epizonal composite stocks that consist of several textural varieties of biotite granite, including medium- to coarse-grained seriate biotite granite, porphyritic biotite granite with an aplitic groundmass, and fine- to medium-grained equigranular biotite granite. The common accessory minerals are fluorite, allanite, apatite, and zircon. Other accessory minerals that are locally present include tourmaline, sphene, opaque oxide minerals, and late-forming (deuteric) muscovite and chlorite. The granites range in major-element contents as follows: SiO2, 72.5% to 76.6%; A12O3, 12.7% to 14.3%; Na2O, 2.9% to 4.0%; K2O, 3.9% to 5.6%; and CaO, 0.6% to 1.2%. The sum of FeO + Fe2O3 + MgO ranges from 0.3% to 2.4%; and the K2O to Na2O ratio from 1.1 to 1.8. The 0.1% to 0.9% F and 0.01% to 0.2% Cl reflect the over-all volatile-rich nature of the granites. The granites contain average or below-average concentrations of Co, Sc, Cr, and Zn, and generally above-average to distinctly high concentrations of Th, U, Hf, and Ta. The large cations emphasize the evolved nature of the granites; the Rb/Sr ratio is as high as 90 in some samples. Initial 87Sr/86Sr ratios range from 0.708 to as high as 0.720. The three Rb-Sr isochrons defined by the data agree with K-Ar age determinations and show that the stocks were emplaced during the Late Cretaceous, between about 70 and 80 m.y. ago.
The field, petrologic, and geochemical data indicate that the plutons had a multistage origin that involved large-scale melting of sialic crust, emplacement of magmas derived from batholithic fractionation at depth, and subsequent evolution of these magmas to generate small volumes of more highly evolved residual magmas. Although evolution of the granite complexes was largely governed by crystal-melt fractionation, some minor-element variations in the highly evolved granites cannot be explained by this process. For example, the distribution of rubidium and the light rare-earths appears to have been influenced by volatile depletion at the final stages of crystallization. The field data, petrologic data, and variation trends, such as distinct shifts toward higher albite contents in the residual granites, suggest that the coexistence of a volatile phase was important in their evolution. These results require that models seeking to explain compositional gradients in high-level granite (rhyolite) systems fully consider the role of a coexisting volatile phase.