The Wuluma granite, Arunta Block, central Australia: An example of in situ, near-isochemical granite formation in a granulite-facies terrane

W. J. Collins*, R. H. Flood, R. H. Vernon, S. E. Shaw

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Citations (Scopus)


The Wuluma granite is a small, elongate, relatively undeformed pluton in the Proterozoic Strangways Metamorphic Complex, central Australia. The complex constitutes a supracrustal assemblage that underwent granulite-facies metamorphism 1800 Ma ago. Metamorphism was associated with at least three phases of folding that ultimately produced upright, regional, doubly plunging F3 folds and isobaric cooling ensued. Generation of the Wuluma granite occurred at ∼ 1750 Ma, based on RbSr isotopic data, during syn-D3 regional retrogression and rehydration of the terrane. Contacts between the granite and gneisses are invariably gradational. At the pluton margin, banded gneisses grade along strike into granite containing abundant biotite schlieren that parallel regional structures. Granite and pegmatite dykes cut these rocks. Inwards from the contact, the granite is more homogeneous, containing diffuse parallel schlieren and small aligned rectangular feldspar crystals, indicating flow of magma. Rafts of unmelted granofels form a ghost layering; they mimic macroscopic F3 folds and show only minor retrogressive metamorphic effects. At the pluton core, the granite is homogeneous and structurally isotropic, containing some subrounded granofelsic inclusions, very diffuse schlieren and disaggregated pegmatite dykes. Thus, it appears that an isoclinally folded, vertical body of quartzofeldspathic gneiss was melted "in situ" to form the pluton, which did not break away from the source. The body resembles a tapered diapir and we term this type of pluton a regional migmatite terrane granite. Geochemical data are consistent with the granite forming by anatexis of quartzofeldspathic migmatitic gneisses with appropriate composition. The chemical similarity of both rock types implies derivation of the granite by either partial melting and retention of residual material in the magma or more complete melting, followed by solidification virtually in situ. The latter interpretation is preferred, although biotite melanosome has been incorporated into the magmas. Migmatitic gneisses, with feldspar proportions corresponding to ternary minima compositions, are argued to have melted during influx of an externally derived aqueous fluid associated with pegmatites. Field evidence shows that slightly different gneisses melted to produce slightly different granite compositions, even on outcrop scale; the compositions of migmatites and derivative granite both range from 67% to 77% SiO2. Therefore, crystal fractionation did not produce the geochemical variation. Rather, in situ crystallization of the granite resulted in a composition near-isochemical to that of the precursors, but with a coarser, obviously granitic texture.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)63-83
Number of pages21
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - 1989


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