Abstract

The Early Cretaceous Separation Point batholith of the South Island, New Zealand, represents the final magmatic stage of an extensive arc system located on the SW Pacific margin of Gondwana during the Mesozoic. The batholith consists of Na-rich, alkali-calcic diorite to biotite-hornblende monzogranite. The rocks are distinct from calc-alkaline subduction-related granitoids, but comparable with those of adakite and Archaean trondhjemite-tonalite-dacite suites.

Primitive Sr and Nd isotopic ratios and the absence of inherited zircon, indicate that the granitoids experienced little, if any, interaction with felsic crust. Their geochemistry is consistent with melting of a basaltic protolith of amphibolite mineralogy, either young, hot, subducted oceanic crust or newly underplated material beneath a thickened continental arc. The latter model is preferred because Separation Point rocks do not posess MORB isotopic characteristics, and cannot be explained as mixtures of MORB-melt and continental crust. Most likely it involves melting of basal arc material in response to the collision and thrusting of the arc beneath the continental margin following subduction of a back-arc basin. On the basis of strong geochemical similarities, the Early Cretaceous Western Fiordland Orthogneiss of SW New Zealand is considered to be the lower crustal equivalent of the Separation Point batholith.

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