Abstract

Precambrian granulites are representative of the lower continental crust. They are, relative to upper crustal gneisses, refractory and low in heat-producing elements, being 'depleted' in K, Rb, Cs, U and Th; they have normal or even higher than normal abundances of Zr, Sr, and Ba, highly fractionated REE patterns and high Ba/Rb, Ba/Sr, Ce/Yb, K/Cs and K/Rb ratios. Having low Rb/Sr, U/Pb and Sm/Nd ratios they are likely to be unradiogenic with respect to Sr, Pb and Nd isotopes. They do not seem to have marked positive Eu anomalies which might compensate for the significant negative Eu anomalies observed in upper crustal granitic rocks and sediments. The granulites formed largely under an intermediate goethermal gradient with P of 7–12 kbar and T of 700–1000°C.

The continental crust completed a substantial part of its growth by 2500 Ma ago. We suggest that growth took place at Cordillerantype continental margins with underthrusting of oceanic crust, generation and underplating of extensive calc-alkaline tonalitic-granodioritic material containing early remnants of hornblende gabbro/calcic anorthosite complexes, and that it was associated with widespread nappe stacking and imbricate interthrusting. This crustal generation process culminated in the granulite metamorphism deep in the tectonically and magmatically thickened continents.

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