U enrichment and Th/U fractionation in Archean boninites: Implications for paleo-ocean oxygenation and U cycling at juvenile subduction zones

C. Manikyamba, Nuru Said, M. Santosh, Abhishek Saha, Sohini Ganguly, K. S.V. Subramanyam

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    Abstract

    Phanerozoic boninites record enrichments of U over Th, giving Th/U: 0.5–1.6, relative to intraoceanic island arc tholeiites (IAT) where Th/U averages 2.6. Uranium enrichment is attributed to incorporation of shallow, oxidized fluids, U-rich but Th-poor, from the slab into the melt column of boninites which form in near-trench to forearc settings of suprasubduction zone ophiolites. Well preserved Archean komatiite-tholeiite, plume-derived, oceanic volcanic sequences have primary magmatic Th/U ratios of 4.4–3.6, and Archean convergent margin IAT volcanic sequences, having REE and HFSE compositions similar to Phanerozoic IAT equivalents, preserve primary Th/U of 4–3.6. The best preserved Archean boninites of the 3.0 Ga Olondo and 2.7 Ga Gadwal greenstone belts, hosted in convergent margin ophiolite sequences, also show relative enrichments of U over Th, with low average Th/U ∼3 relative to coeval IAT, and Phanerozoic counterparts which are devoid of crustal contamination and therefore erupted in an intraoceanic setting, with minimal contemporaneous submarine hydrothermal alteration. Later enrichment of U is unlikely as Th-U-Nb-LREE patterns are coherent in these boninites whereas secondary effects induce dispersion of Th/U ratios. The variation in Th/U ratios from Archean to Phanerozoic boninites of greenstone belts to ophiolitic sequences reflect on genesis of boninitic lavas at different tectono-thermal regimes. Consequently, if the explanation for U enrichment in Phanerozoic boninites also applies to Archean examples, the implication is that U was soluble in oxygenated Archean marine water up to 600 Ma before the proposed great oxygenation event (GOE) at ∼2.4 Ga. This interpretation is consistent with large Ce anomalies in some hydrothermally altered Archean volcanic sequences aged 3.0–2.7 Ga.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)187-197
    Number of pages11
    JournalJournal of Asian Earth Sciences
    Volume157
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 15 May 2018

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