Ages and sources of mantle eclogites: ID-TIMS and in situ MC-ICPMS Pb-Sr isotope systematics of clinopyroxene

Sonja Aulbach*, Larry M. Heaman, Dorrit E. Jacob, K. S. Viljoen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


Strontium and Pb isotopic compositions of clinopyroxene (cpx) in selected samples from three well-characterised eclogite suites with oceanic crustal protoliths (Lace/Kaapvaal craton, Orapa/Zimbabwe craton and Koidu/West African craton) were acquired by high-precision isotope dilution thermal ionisation mass spectrometry (ID-TIMS) and in situ multicollector-laser ablation-inductively-coupled plasma mass spectrometry (MC-LA-ICPMS). The aims of this study are twofold: (1) assess their utility to obtain formation or resetting age constraints and identify elemental signatures that enhance the chances of successful age dating, and (2) to confirm the veracity and utility of results obtained by novel MC-LA-ICPMS techniques. Strontium-Pb isotope systematics of eclogitic cpx measured in this study are decoupled and may reflect addition of unsupported radiogenic Sr during seawater alteration or interaction with oceanic sediments in subduction mélanges, and/or disturbance due to mantle metasomatism, to which the more incompatible Pb is more susceptible. Despite a complex history, subsets of samples yield meaningful model dates. Clinopyroxene fractions from Lace with high Pb contents (3–6 ppm), unradiogenic Pb isotopic compositions (206Pb/204Pb = 13.57–13.52) and low 238U/204Pb (1.0–1.5) give single-stage model Pb dates of 2.90–2.84 Ga. In contrast, samples from Orapa plot to the right of the Geochron and do not yield meaningful Pb model ages. However, these data do define secondary isochrons that can be modelled to yield minimum age constraints on major events affecting the cratonic lithosphere. Within the uncertainties, the resultant 2.18 ± 0.45 Ga age obtained for Koidu eclogites reflect disturbance of the Pb isotope system due to subduction beneath the craton linked to the Eburnean orogeny, while they retained their unradiogenic 87Sr/86Sr (0.7016). Similarly, the age for samples from Orapa (2.20 ± 0.54 Ga) is interpreted as an overprint age related to Palaeoproterozoic accretion at the western craton margin.

Gabbroic eclogites (Eu/Eu* > 1) with plagioclase-rich protoliths having low time-integrated Rb/Sr and U/Pb retain the least radiogenic Sr and, in part, Pb. High model μ (9.0 to 9.1) for several eclogites from Lace with elevated LREE, Th and Pb abundances reflects ca. 3.0 Ga addition of a sedimentary component, possibly derived from reworking of a high-μ basaltic protocrust, as observed on other cratons. We suggest that sample targeting can be usefully guided by fast-throughput in situ LA-ICPMS techniques, which largely yield results identical to ID-TIMS, albeit at lower precision, and which can further help identify kimberlite contamination in the mineral separates used for solution work.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)15-28
Number of pages14
JournalChemical Geology
Early online date8 Oct 2018
Publication statusPublished - 5 Jan 2019


  • Mantle eclogite xenoliths
  • U-Pb-Sr isotopes
  • Age dating
  • Trace elements
  • Archaean oceanic crust


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