Widespread tungsten isotope anomalies and W mobility in crustal and mantle rocks of the Eoarchean Saglek Block, northern Labrador, Canada: Implications for early Earth processes and W recycling
Pearson, D. Graham
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Well-resolved 182W isotope anomalies, relative to the present mantle, in Hadean–Archean terrestrial rocks have been interpreted to reflect the effects of variable late accretion and early mantle differentiation processes. To further explore these early Earth processes, we have carried out W concentration and isotopic measurements of Eoarchean ultramafic rocks, including lithospheric mantle rocks, meta-komatiites, a layered ultramafic body and associated crustal gneisses and amphibolites from the Uivak gneiss terrane of the Saglek Block, northern Labrador, Canada. These analyses are augmented by in situ W concentration measurements of individual phases in order to examine the major hosts of W in these rocks. Although the W budget in some rocks can be largely explained by a combination of their major phases, W in other rocks is hosted mainly in secondary grain-boundary assemblages, as well as in cryptic, unidentified W-bearing ‘nugget’ minerals. Whole rock W concentrations in the ultramafic rocks show unexpected enrichments relative, to elements with similar incompatibilities. By contrast, W concentrations are low in the Uivak gneisses. These data, along with the in situ W concentration data, suggest metamorphic transport/re-distribution of W from the regional felsic rocks, the Uivak gneiss precursors, to the spatially associated ultramafic rocks. All but one sample from the lithologically varied Eoarchean Saglek suite is characterized by generally uniform enrichments in 182W relative to Earth's modern mantle. Modeling shows that the W isotopic enrichments in the ultramafic rocks were primarily inherited from the surrounding 182W-rich felsic precursor rocks, and that the W isotopic composition of the original ultramafic rocks cannot be determined. The observed W isotopic composition of mafic to ultramafic rocks in intimate contact with ancient crust should be viewed with caution in order to plate constraints on the early Hf–W isotopic evolution of the Earth's mantle with regard to late accretionary processes. Although 182W anomalies can be erased via mixing in the convective mantle, recycling of 182W-rich crustal rocks into the mantle can produce new mantle sources with anomalous W isotopic compositions that can be tapped at much later times and, hence, this process should be considered as a mechanism for the generation of 182W-rich rocks at any subsequent time in Earth history.