An integrated approach embracing field studies, petrographic and geochemical investigations together with zircon U-Pb-Hf data was used to investigate the petrogenesis of potassic granite suites along the southern margin of the Zimbabwe Craton. Zircon U-Pb geochronology identifies age relationships, revealing coeval magmatism of the ca. 2 635 ± 5 to 2 625 ± 3 Ma Chilimanzi Suite, and the ca. 2 627 ± 7 Ma Razi Suite. Both suites represent syn- to late-tectonic, high-K, calc-alkaline, and metaluminous to weakly peraluminous granites and granodiorites with I-type affinity. The granite suites contain xenocrystic zircons, with the Chikwanda Pluton of the Chilimanzi Suite yielding a grain of up to 3 206 Ma old. Both granite suites exhibit eHf values of between -5.6 ± 1.3 and -7.3 ± 1.6 and TDM model ages of ca. 3.4 to 3.5 Ga which suggests a similar crustal source. The unradiogenic zircon Hf isotopic compositions are consistent with formation of the granite suites through partial melting of pre-existing crustal protoliths, including Palaeoarchaean tonalite-trondhjemite-granodiorites (TTGs) of the Zimbabwe proto-craton. Partial melting of lower crust gave rise to granitic melts that became emplaced over a relatively short time interval from 2 635 to 2 625 Ma and heralded the stabilisation of the Zimbabwe Craton.

In addition to virtually identical ages, the Razi and Chilimanzi suites have similar geochemistry. Small geochemical differences between the Chilimanzi and the Razi suites are attributed to the crustal level at which they are preserved, the modal mineralogy and the extent to which the melts are evolved. The Razi Suite melts were generated from lower crust partial melting of thickened charnockite-enderbite source rocks rich in heat producing elements. The partial melting occurred under fluid-absent conditions and magmas were emplaced at lower to mid crustal levels. The Chilimanzi Suite magmas were similarly derived by the partial melting of TTG lower crust and were emplaced at upper crustal levels. Accordingly, the Chilimanzi Suite exhibits more evolved magmatic fractionation indices indicated by high Rb/Sr, as well as low K/Rb ratios relative to the Razi Suite. Both suites reveal varying degrees of enrichment in incompatible elements including Rb, Th, and U, as well simultaneous depletions in Ba, Sr, and Hf which underscores the role of fractional crystallisation in the evolution of the granitic magmas.

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