The Generation of Arc Andesites and Dacites in the Lower Crust of a Cordilleran Arc, Fiordland, New Zealand

Kendra Carty, Joshua J. Schwartz, John Wiesenfeld, Keith A. Klepeis, Harold H. Stowell, Andy J. Tulloch, Calvin G. Barnes

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We present microbeam major- and trace-element data from 14 monzodiorites collected from the Malaspina Pluton (Fiordland, New Zealand) with the goal of evaluating processes involved in the production of andesites in lower arc crust. We focus on relict igneous assemblages consisting of plagioclase and amphibole with lesser amounts of clinopyroxene, orthopyroxene, biotite and quartz. These relict igneous assemblages are heterogeneously preserved in the lower crust within sheeted intrusions that display hypersolidus fabrics defined by alignment of unstrained plagioclase and amphibole. Trace-element data from relict igneous amphiboles in these rocks reveal two distinct groups: one relatively enriched in high field strength element concentrations and one relatively depleted. The enriched amphibole group has Zr values in the range of ∼25-110 ppm, Nb values of ∼5-32 ppm, and Th values up to 2·4 ppm. The depleted group, in contrast, shows Zr values <35 ppm and Nb values <0·25 ppm, and Th is generally below the level of detection. Amphibole crystallization temperatures calculated from major elements range from ∼960 to 830 °C for all samples in the pluton; however, we do not observe significant differences in the range of crystallization temperatures between enriched (∼960-840 °C) and depleted groups (∼940-830 °C). Bulk-rock Sr and Nd isotopes are also remarkably homogeneous and show no apparent difference between enriched (ϵNdi = 0·1 to -0·1; 87Sr/86Sri = 0·70420-0·70413) and depleted groups (ϵNdi = 0·3 to -0·4; 87Sr/86Sri = 0·70424-0·70411). Calculated amphibole-equilibrium melt compositions using chemometric equations indicate that melts were highly fractionated (molar Mg# <50), andesitic to dacitic in composition, and were much more evolved than bulk lower continental crust or primitive basalts and andesites predicted to have formed from hydrous melting of mantle-wedge peridotite beneath an arc. We suggest that melts originated from a common, isotopically homogeneous source beneath the Malaspina Pluton, and differences between enriched and depleted trace-element groups reflect varying contributions from subducted sediment-derived melt and sediment-derived fluid, respectively. Our data demonstrate that andesites and dacites were the dominant melts that intruded the lower crust, and their compositions mirror middle and upper bulk-continental crust estimates. Continental crust-like geochemical signatures were acquired in the source region from interaction between hydrous mantle-wedge melts and recycled subducted sediment rather than assimilation and/or remelting of pre-existing lower continental crust.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberegab043
JournalJournal of Petrology
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 1 2021


  • Cordilleran arc
  • MASH zone
  • amphibole
  • and esite
  • hot zone
  • lower crust


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