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The Archaean to Proterozoic igneous rocks of the Pilbara region, Western Australia –internationally significant geology of a globally unique potential geopark

Semeniuk, V. and Brocx, M. (2019) The Archaean to Proterozoic igneous rocks of the Pilbara region, Western Australia –internationally significant geology of a globally unique potential geopark. International Journal of Geoheritage and Parks, 7 (2). pp. 56-71.

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Abstract

The Pilbara region of Western Australia, covering some 500 km × 500 km, provides a diversity of Archaean to Proterozoic igneous rocks in a relatively compact area that records a younging southward crustal history of igneous activity, sedimentation, early life, tectonics, and metamorphism from the Archaean (3.6–2.7 Ga) to Proterozoic (2.5–1.8 Ga). The igneous rocks are variable in age, types of rocks, and mode of occurrence and, throughout the Precambrian, record varying igneous rock activity that appear related to several age-related geological settings: to north, the Archaean Pilbara Craton consists of a granitoid-and-greenstone complex; in the central region, there are Proterozoic sequences of volcanic rock, volcaniclastic rock, ironstone, chert, dolomite, shale, and intrusive dolerite sills and cross-cutting dolerite dykes; to the south, there are Proterozoic shale, dolomite, and chert with isolated granitic batholiths. Igneous activity begins in the Archaean with mafic and ultramafic volcanism alternating with sedimentation, and then granitoid cratonisation. This was followed by Proterozoic volcanic crustal accretion with mafic volcanic and volcaniclastic rocks, and by dolerite and gabbro sill and dyke intrusions, ending with isolated granite batholithic intrusions.

Igneous rocks in the Pilbara region are diverse: komatiite; mafic volcanic/volcaniclastic rocks; basalt; tuff/volcanic breccia/accretionary lapilli; dolerite, gabbro, leucogabbro, pegmatitic gabbro, granite, and adamellite; xenolithic dolerite/gabbro; andesite, dacite, rhyodacite, rhyolite; granitoids: adamellite, monzogranite, syenogranite, granodiorite, tonalite, granite; granophyre; felsic dykes; and felsic porphyry. They are expressed as granitoid batholiths, komatiite and basalt sheets/lenses, mafic volcanic/volcaniclastic rocks in sheets, sills of dolerite, gabbro, ultramafic rocks, and diorite, dykes of dolerite, gabbro, and felsic rocks, structurally-oriented dolerite dyke swarms, tuff/volcanic breccia/accretionary lapilli in sheets/lenses, sheets of dacite, rhyodacite, rhyolite, and andesite, gabbroic plugs, apophyses, and a variety of host-rock to xenolith relationships. Today, the Pilbara region is arid, hence outcrop is excellent and many of these geological features are well exposed. The diversity of Archaean to Proterozoic igneous rocks in a relatively compact and well-exposed area and qualifies it as a globally unique potential Precambrian igneous-rock geopark.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation: Environmental and Conservation Sciences
Publisher: Elsevier B.V.
Copyright: © 2019 Beijing Normal University.
URI: http://researchrepository.murdoch.edu.au/id/eprint/46321
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