Abstract

A 25 to 30 km wide magnetic anomaly within the >2.79 Ga granite-greenstone rocks of the northwestern Kaapvaal Craton is spatially associated with megabreccia outcrops near the village of Setlagole in the North West Province, South Africa. The breccia comprises angular to rounded clasts of TTG gneisses, granites and granodiorites, with lesser amounts of amphibolite, calc-silicate rock and banded iron-formation as well as unusual dark grey to black, irregular, centimetre- to decimetre-sized clasts that show evidence of fluidal behaviour and plastic deformation during incorporation into the breccia. The largest clasts reach up to several metres in size. Evidence of fluvial transport is found in rare thin sandy to gritty layers that show crude bedding and upward-fining with layers dipping gently to the northeast. The breccia matrix is highly variable but is dominated by angular mineral clasts (mainly quartz and feldspar, with subsidiary biotite, amphibole and epidote) with interstitial chlorite. The clasts show variable amounts of alteration (saussuritization, sericitization, chloritization of biotite and amphibole). The dark clasts contain angular quartz and feldspar and small biotite fragments in a cryptocrystalline chlorite-dominant matrix. Textures indicate a lower greenschist facies metamorphic overprint. The absence of lava, dolomite or quartzite clasts suggests that the breccia formed prior to the deposition of the Neoarchaean Ventersdorp and Eoproterozoic Transvaal Supergroups, whereas the metamorphic grade indicates that it postdates the ca. 2.79 Ga amphibolite-facies metamorphic peak in the region. This suggests a late Mesoarchaean or early Neoarchaean (ca. 2.79 to 2.71 Ga) age for the breccia. A similar age is inferred for the magnetic anomaly based on postulated cross-cutting dyke ages. Despite a comprehensive search, unequivocal shock-diagnostic microdeformation features have not yet been found in either the breccia or the highly-weathered granitic gneiss outcrops in the central parts of the anomaly. The unusual plastically-deformed dark clasts may represent chloritized mud clasts or impact melt clasts. Geochemical data on these clasts and other components of the megabreccia provide no conclusive support for a meteoritic origin, but the unparalleled composition of the clasts and their high trace element abundances of Ni, Cr, V, Zn and Co relative to rocks of the Kraaipan granite-greenstone basement, suggests an unusual origin for this matrix material. Given the distinctive nature of the breccia and its proximity to a large circular magnetic anomaly, it is postulated that the megabreccia could represent a mass or debris flow in a marine setting triggered by an impact tsunami or resurge. Subsequent faulting may have led to the preferential preservation of these deposits. This interpretation of the Setlagole megabreccia and geophysical anomaly is evaluated in terms of other possible modes of origin and it is concluded that a meteoritic source best fits the available data.

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