Trace-element geochemistry of archean greenstone belts

Kent C. Condie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

116 Citations (Scopus)


Progressive alteration, diagenesis, and low-grade metamorphism of Archean greenstone belts often leads to redistribution of alkali and related trace elements. Transition metals and rare earths are relatively resistant to these processes and hence are most useful in evaluating petrologic problems. Depleted Archean tholeiite (DAT) exhibits flat REE distributions and low LIL-element contents while enriched Archean tholeiite (EAT) exhibits slightly enriched REE patterns and moderate LIL-element contents. DAT is grossly similar to modern rise and are tholeiites and EAT to cale-alkaline and oceanic island tholeiites. Archean and esites fall into three categories: depleted Archean andesite (DAA) exhibits flat REE patterns, negative Eu anomalies and low LIL-element contents; low-alkali Archean andesite (LAA) shows minor light REE enrichment and low LIL-element contents; and high-alkali Archean andesite (HAA) shows light REE enrichment and high LIL-element contents. LAA is grossly similar to modern cale-alkaline andesites, but DAA and HAA do not have modern analogues. Archean depleted siliceous volcanics (DSV) exhibit depletion in heavy REE and Y compared to modern siliceous volcanics whereas undepleted varieties (USV) are similar to modern ones. Almost all Archean volcanic rocks, regardless of composition, are enriched in transition metals compared to modern varieties. Archean graywackes are similar in composition to Phanerozoic graywackes. Rock associations in Archean greenstones suggest the existence of two tectonic settings. Magma model studies indicate that partial melting has left the strongest imprint on trace-element distributions in greenstone volcanics. Three magma source rocks are necessary (listed in order of decreasing importance): ultramafic rock, eclogite, and siliceous granulite. Trace-element studies of Archean graywackes indicate a mixed volcanic-granitic provenance with minor ultramafic contributions. Alkali and related trace-element contents of Archean volcanics have been interpreted in terms of both undepleted and depleted upper mantle sources. Preferential enrichment of transition metals in Archean volcanics may have resulted from upward movement of immiscible liquid sulfide droplets with Archean magmas, depleting the source area in these elements. Initial Sr isotope distributions in Archean volcanics indicate the upper mantle during the Archean was heterogeneous in terms of its Rb/Sr ratio.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)393-417
Number of pages25
JournalEarth Science Reviews
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1976


Dive into the research topics of 'Trace-element geochemistry of archean greenstone belts'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this