Partial convective overturn of Archaean crust in the east Pilbara Craton, Western Australia: Driving mechanisms and tectonic implications

W. J. Collins, M. J. Van Kranendonk, C. Teyssier

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236 Citations (Scopus)


Strain varies systematically from weakly-developed, outward-dipping, S-tectonites in the ∼33203310 ± 10 Ma Mount Edgar Batholith to intensely deformed, subvertical, L-tectonites in greenstones of the Warrawoona syncline. A consistent 'greenstone-down/batholith-up' sense of shear is recorded in batholithic domal margins and adjacent high-grade supracrustal rims: lineations converge to a central zone of subvertical extension (zone of sinking) along the synclinal axis. At domal margins, early kinematic granitoid sheets and 'intrusive diatexites' are subconcordant to a well-developed, dome-parallel schistosity, but late- to post-kinematic intrusives are discordant, high-level plutons. All granitoids are the same age, within analytical error. These syn-doming features conform with structural tests for diapirs, and differ from those expected during metamorphic core complex formation and cross-folding. Diapirism is part of a larger process involving partial convective overturn of the crust. Based on strain patterns and kinematic criteria, we argue that deformation was initiated by sinking of greenstones, which rapidly subsided; the domes then rose passively as accommodation structures. Ongoing doming (D4) partitioned strain to the southern rim of the batholith and uplifted a wedge of the Warrawoona Syncline keel. We consider that crustal overturn occurred in response to mantle plume activity: Eruption of a 5-10 km thick, ∼3325 Ma, mafic-ultramafic greenstone pile onto an older granite-greenstone terrain created a negatively buoyant crust, but convective overturn occurred some 5-20 Ma later, triggered by widespread anatexis (thermal softening). Convective overturn may have been a common Archaean process, occurring in response to a hotter mantle, and represents an end-member deformation mechanism that includes thrust-accretion of lithotectonic assemblages in other Archaean terranes, such as the Superior Province of Canada.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1405-1424
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Structural Geology
Issue number9-10
Publication statusPublished - 1998
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geology


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