Bushveld superplume drove Proterozoic magmatism and metallogenesis in Australia

Marco L. Fiorentini, Craig O’Neill, Andrea Giuliani, Eunjoo Choi, Roland Maas, Franco Pirajno, Stephen Foley

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17 Citations (Scopus)


Large-scale mantle convective processes are commonly reflected in the emplacement of Large Igneous Provinces (LIPs). These are high-volume, short-duration magmatic events consisting mainly of extensive flood basalts and their associated plumbing systems. One of the most voluminous LIPs in the geological record is the ~ 2.06 billion-year-old Bushveld Igneous Complex of South Africa (BIC), one of the most mineralised magmatic complexes on Earth. Surprisingly, the known geographic envelope of magmatism related to the BIC is limited to a series of satellite intrusions in southern Africa and has not been traced further afield. This appears inconsistent with the inferred large size of the BIC event. Here, we present new radiometric ages for alkaline magmatism in the Archean Yilgarn Craton (Western Australia), which overlap the emplacement age of the BIC and indicate a much more extensive geographic footprint of the BIC magmatic event. To assess plume involvement at this distance, we present numerical simulations of mantle plume impingement at the base of the lithosphere, and constrain a relationship between the radial extent of volcanism versus time, excess temperature and plume size. These simulations suggest that the thermal influence of large plume events could extend for thousands of km within a few million years, and produce widespread alkaline magmatism, crustal extension potentially leading to continental break-up, and large ore deposits in distal sectors. Our results imply that superplumes may produce very extensive and diverse magmatic and metallogenic provinces, which may now be preserved in widely-dispersed continental blocks.

Original languageEnglish
Article number19729
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2020


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