Geochronology of granitic rocks from the Ruangwa region, southern Tanzania: links with NE Mozambique and beyond

Thomas, Robert J.; Bushi, Alphonce M.; Roberts, Nick M.W.; Jacobs, Joachim. 2014 Geochronology of granitic rocks from the Ruangwa region, southern Tanzania: links with NE Mozambique and beyond. Journal of African Earth Sciences, 100. 70-80.

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New U–Pb zircon LA-ICP-MS data are presented for 4 granitoid bodies which intrude high grade gneisses of the previously unmapped Ruangwa region in southern Tanzania. The study area forms part of the late Neoproterozoic East African Orogen (EAO). The oldest unit, a coarse-grained migmatitic granitic orthogneiss gave an early Neoproterozoic (Tonian) crystallization age of 899 ± 9/16 Ma, which is similar to, but significantly younger than, Stenian-Tonian basement ages in areas relatively nearby. Crust of this age may extend as far north as the major Phanerozoic Selous Basin, north of which Archaean protolith ages predominate (the “Western Granulites”), except for the juvenile Neoproterozoic “Eastern Granulites”, which are not represented in the study area. To the south, the Tonian crust of the study area provides a tentative link with the Marrupa Complex in NE Mozambique. A granite pluton, dated at 650 ± 5/11 Ma is broadly coeval with the main Pan-African tectono-thermal event in the East African Orogen that is recorded across Tanzania north of the Selous Basin. Zircons in this granite contain inherited cores at ca. 770 Ma. This age is within the range of dates obtained from south and west of the study area from juvenile granitoid orthogneisses which might be related to a widespread, but poorly understood, early phase of Gondwana assembly along an Andean-type margin. South of the study area, in NE Mozambique, the latest orogenic events occurred at ca. 550 Ma, and are sometimes attributed to the Ediacaran-aged “Kuunga Orogeny”. While metamorphic dates of this age have been recorded from the EAO north of the Selous Basin, magmatic rocks of this event have not been recognized in Tanzania. The two youngest granitoids of the present study are thus the first 500–600 Ma igneous rocks reported from the region. A weakly deformed very coarse-grained granite pluton was dated at 591 ± 4/10 Ma, while a very late, cross-cutting, undeformed granite dyke gave an intrusive age of 549 ± 4/9 Ma. The granitoids ages presented in this study contain elements that are characteristic of the northern, Tanzania-Kenya, segment of the East African Orogen and of the southern, Mozambique, segment. The Tonian orthogneiss sample is typical of (but somewhat younger than) the Marrupa Complex of NE Mozambique. No zircon inheritance was recorded in the sample, typical of the juvenile Marrupa Complex. On the other hand, the ca. 650 Ma granite pluton has an age that is typical of the northern segment of the orogen; this is the first recorded granite of that age intruded into the Tonian-dominated crust of southern Tanzania or NE Mozambique. The two younger granites have provided dates that are typical of the southern segment of the orogen, and that of the Kuunga Orogen. The study area thus appears to represent an area of transitional crust straddling two complex and contrasting segments of the East African Orogen, with elements of both segments present and evidence for a ca. 770 Ma event which appears to be quite widespread and may relate to the early phases of Gondwana amalgamation in southern East Africa.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
ISSN: 1464343X
Date made live: 25 Jul 2014 07:32 +0 (UTC)

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