Lithium isotopic compositions of the New England Batholith: Correlations with inferred source rock compositions

Colleen J. Bryant*, Bruce W. Chappell, Victoria C. Bennett, Malcolm T. McCulloch

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    63 Citations (Scopus)


    A strong correlation exists between the Li isotopic compositions of Carboniferous-Triassic granites from the New England Batholith, and the previously inferred involvement of sedimentary and mantle/infracrustal source components. Isotopically (Nd and Sr) juvenile, low-K, Cordilleran I-type granites of the Clarence River supersuite have δ 7Li = +2·2 to +8‰ similar to those of arc magmas, the inferred source of these granites (Bryant et al. 1997). Isotopic variability within this supersuite probably arises from heterogeneity within primary mantle-derived magmas, combined with subsequent modifications through interactions with crustal materials. Oxidised, high-K granites of the Moonbi Supersuite have more homogenous and slightly lighter Li isotopic compositions (δ7Li = +1·9 to +4·2‰). The observed range of values lies within the range of arc magmas, and is consistent with partial melting of arc shoshonites within the crust (cf. Chappell 1978) or the involvement of high-K mantle-derived magmas (cf. Shaw & Flood 1981; Landenberger & Collins 1998). S-type granites of the Bundarra (δ7Li = -0·1 to +2·1‰; average = +1·3‰; n=6) and Hillgrove supersuites (δ 7Li = +0·4 to +1·7‰; average = +0·8‰) define a narrow range of isotopic compositions which are, overall, lower than those observed in NEB I-type granites or generally observed in primary arc magmas. Their isotopic compositions are equivalent to those typically observed in shales (primarily δ 7Li = -3·2 to +2·0‰; Moriguti & Nakamura 1998; Teng et al. 2004). No difference is evident in the isotopic compositions of the two S-type supersuites despite inferred differences in the degree of weathering experienced by the sedimentary protolith, or differences in mineralogy of the granites. Granites of the Uralla Supersuite, which have been have formed from mixtures of local meta-igneous and meta-sedimentary components, span a broad range of values (δ7Li = - 1·3 to + 3·9‰) which overlap with both the sediment-poor New England Batholith I-type intrusions of the Clarence River and Moonbi supersuites, and the S-type granites of the Bundarra and Hillgrove supersuites. Lower δ 7Li values primarily occur in lower-K plutons from the northern portion of the Uralla Supersuite. Overall, anatexis and ma gma differentiation do not appear to contribute to significant fractionation of Li isotopes relative to the inferred source components. However, subtly lower δ7Li values, evident in the three leucogranites analysed herein, imply that subtle Li isotopic fractionation may occur in association with the exsolution of an aqueous fluid. Like most isotopic systems, the Li isotopic composition of rocks is not a definitive guide to source rock compositions, but given the results herein, the present authors suggest that it may play a very useful role in understanding crustal processes.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)199-214
    Number of pages16
    JournalTransactions of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, Earth Sciences
    Issue number1-2
    Publication statusPublished - 2004


    • Crust
    • Granite
    • Lithium isotope
    • Sediment


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