Ultramafic-mafic layered complexes are important but not-well studied components of Archaean granitoid-greenstone terranes. In the vicinity of the Barberton Greenstone Belt (BGB), at least 27 such complexes are intimately associated with the supracrustal succession. The petrogenesis of one of these layered bodies, the Stolzburg Complex (SC), is explored, together with its relationship to the surrounding Barberton volcanic succession.

Previous models for the origin of Barberton layered complexes proposed a variety of mechanisms, such as single chamber subvolcanic sills, ponded lavas, and alpine-type tectonites. In contrast, the present work suggests that emplacement mostly occurred as sheeted sills of crystal slurries into the country rocks. Unlike the subvolcanic sills model, whereby each complex grew through repetitive magma injection and differentiation in a single chamber, the preferred model regards the layered bodies as ‘stacks’ of discrete intrusions, where each magmatic unit represents a distinct sill. Through comparison of trace element geochemistry (i.e., trace element ratios and patterns), the Lower and Upper divisions of the SC are inferred to be petrogenetically related, but compositionally distinct from the enveloping Nelshoogte volcanic rocks. The trace element geochemistry of the Lower and Upper divisions of the complex is indistinguishable. While the SC ultramafic rocks display an Al-undepleted character, Nelshoogte metavolcanics can be classified as Al-depleted komatiites and komatiitic basalts.

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