Genesis and evolution of the lithospheric mantle beneath the Buffalo Head Terrane, Alberta (Canada)

S. Aulbach*, W. L. Griffin, S. Y. O'Reilly, Tom E. McCandless

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

57 Citations (Scopus)


Mantle xenoliths and xenocrysts were retrieved from three of the 88-86 Ma Buffalo Hills kimberlites (K6, K11, K14) for a reconnaissance study of the subcontinental lithospheric mantle (SCLM) beneath the Buffalo Head Terrane (Alberta, Canada). The xenoliths include spinel lherzolites, one garnet spinel lherzolite, garnet harzburgites, one sheared garnet lherzolite and pyroxenites. Pyroxenitic and wehrlitic garnet xenocrysts are derived primarily from the shallow mantle and lherzolitic garnet xenocrysts from the deep mantle. Harzburgite with Ca-saturated garnets is concentrated in a layer between ∼135-165 km depth. Garnet xenocrysts define a model conductive paleogeotherm corresponding to a heat flow of 38-39 mW/m2. The sheared garnet lherzolite lies on an inflection of this geotherm and may constrain the depth of the lithosphere-asthenosphere boundary (LAB) beneath this region to ca 180 km depth. A loss of >20% partial melt is recorded by spinel lherzolites and up to 60% by the garnet harzburgites, which may be related to lithosphere formation. The mantle was subsequently modified during at least two metasomatic events. An older metasomatic event is evident in incompatible-element enrichments in homogeneous equilibrated garnet and clinopyroxene. Silicate melt metasomatism predominated in the deep lithosphere and led to enrichments in the HFSE with minor enrichments in LREE. Metasomatism by small-volume volatile-rich melts, such as carbonatite, appears to have been more important in the shallow lithosphere and led to enrichments in LREE with minor enrichments in HFSE. An intermediate metasomatic style, possibly a signature of volatile-rich silicate melts, is also recognised. These metasomatic styles may be related through modification of a single melt during progressive interaction with the mantle. This metasomatism is suggested to have occurred during Paleoproterozoic rifting of the Buffalo Head Terrane from the neighbouring Rae Province and may be responsible for the evolution of some samples toward unradiogenic Nd and Hf isotopic compositions. Disturbed Re-Os isotope systematics, evident in implausible model ages, were obtained in situ for sulfides in several spinel lherzolites and suggest that many sulfides are secondary (metasomatic) or mixtures of primary and secondary sulfides. Sulfide in one peridotite has unradiogenic 87Os/188Os and gives a model age of 1.89±0.38 Ga. This age coincides with the inferred emplacement of mafic sheets in the crust and suggests that the melts parental to the intrusions interacted with the lithospheric mantle. A younger metasomatic event is indicated by the occurrence of sulfide-rich melt patches, unequilibrated mineral compositions and overgrowths on spinel that are Ti-, Cr- and Fe-rich but Zn-poor. Subsequent cooling is recorded by fine exsolution lamellae in the pyroxenes and by arrested mineral reactions. If the lithosphere beneath the Buffalo Head Terrane was formed in the Archaean, any unambiguous signatures of this ancient origin may have been obliterated during these multiple events.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)413-451
Number of pages39
Issue number1-4 SPEC. ISS.
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2004


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