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Geochemical, modal, and geochronologic data for 1.4 Ga A-type granitoid intrusions of the conterminous United States

August 10, 2015


The purpose of this report is to present available geochemical, modal, and geochronologic data for approximately 1.4 billion year (Ga) A-type granitoid intrusions of the United States and to make those data available to ongoing petrogenetic investigations of these rocks. A-type granites, as originally defined by Loiselle and Wones (1979), are iron-enriched granitoids (synonymous with the ferroan granitoids of Frost and Frost, 2011) that occur in an anorogenic, within-continent setting. Relative to other granitic rocks, A-type granites have high FeO*/(FeO*+MgO), high K2O and K2O/Na2O, are metaluminous to weakly peraluminous, and are enriched in incompatible trace elements. Loiselle and Wones (1979) further suggested that A-type granites are relatively anhydrous. Anderson (1983) provides an early compilation of data for the products of 1.4 Ga magmatism in North America and notes the spatial and temporal association of a trio of rock types, which includes gabbro to anorthosite, intermediate composition mangerite, and granitic rapakivi rocks. In North America, the majority of known A-type intrusions were emplaced between 1.5 and 1.3 Ga and are predominantly of the granitic variety (Anderson, 1983).

This report addresses the broadly Mesoproterozoic-age granitic rocks of the conterminous United States. Constituents of this group of intrusive rocks were defined using a variety of spatial, compositional, and geochronologic metrics. Thomas and others (2012) provided an updated synthesis, largely based on new isotopic and geochronologic data (for example, Fisher and others, 2010), for the large-scale geologic and tectonic evolution of the eastern United States. Their findings suggest that the basement rocks of the central and southern Appalachian region are allochthonous relative to the remainder of Laurentia and were accreted along the Grenville front between 1.25 and 1.0 Ga. Accordingly, Mesoproterozoic rocks east of the Grenville front and south of the approximate latitude of New York City do not represent North American magmatism. Consequently, geochemical, modal, and geochronologic data for these rocks are not included in the compilation described herein. Further, the structural styles and compositions of granitoid rocks east of the Grenville front, mostly highly deformed gneissic rocks, are dissimilar to those characteristic of the A-type granitoid rocks described herein.

A variety of compositional and age information further characterizes the 1.4 Ga A-type granitoid rocks in the conterminous United States. Most samples included in this compilation have felsic compositions, although some extend to intermediate compositions. SiO2 contents range from 56 to almost 78 weight percent, and median and mean SiO2 contents are 72.0 and 71.1 weight percent, respectively. The majority of these rocks for which modal data are available are composed of monzogranite (Streckeisen, 1976), although the dataset also contains many samples composed of granodiorite and syenogranite. A smaller group of the granitoid rocks in this dataset are composed of quartz monzodiorite and quartz monzonite, and a very small subset of samples is composed of alkali-feldspar granite, tonalite, alkali-feldspar quartz syenite, and quartz syenite (fig. 1). Many of the 1.4 Ga granitoid rocks are further characterized by medium- to coarse-grain size and are also conspicuously porphyritic; alkali feldspar phenocrysts or megacrysts (2–10 cm), often with rapakivi overgrowths, are a common feature of many of these rocks (Anderson, 1983; Anderson and Bender, 1989; Anderson and Cullers, 1978; Condie and Budding, 1979). The age of A-type magmatism in North America ranges from about 1.8 to 1.0 Ga, although Anderson (1983) suggests that more than 70 percent (by volume) of A-type magmatism in this region occurred between 1.49 and 1.41 Ga. In the conterminous United States, ages of A-type granitoid rocks are restricted to the period between about 1.49 and 1.33 Ga (Anderson, 1983; Bauer and Pollock, 1993; Bickford and Mose, 1975; Bickford, Harrower, and others, 1981; Bickford and others, 1989; Dewane and Van Schmus, 2007; Hoppe and others, 1983; Peterman and Hedge, 1968; Van Schmus and Bickford, 1981; Van Schmus and others, 1975). Using these recognition criteria, we identified A-type granitoid intrusions of the conterminous United States; for those intrusions, we compiled available geochemical, modal, isotopic (Sr and Nd) and geochronologic data for inclusion in the databases described herein.

The significance of 1.4 Ga granitoid rocks relative to the geologic evolution of the conterminous United States remains unclear, despite Anderson’s (1983) compilation and synthesis of compositional data pertinent to these rocks. The large-volume magmatic events indicated by these rocks, as well as their broad geographic distribution, tectonic significance, and association with mineral deposits, underscore their importance. The broad distribution of these rocks, from the northern mid-continent to the southwestern United States (in New Mexico, Arizona, California, and southernmost Nevada), throughout the Rocky Mountains in New Mexico and Colorado (and sporadically in southern Wyoming and central Idaho), and beneath much of the Plains region (as indicated by drilling), has led to the large-scale tectonic and magmatic processes responsible for genesis of the associated magmas being actively studied.

In addition, Kisvarsanyi (1972) suggests that iron-copper deposits in the St. Francois Mountains of southeastern Missouri are petrogenetically associated with 1.4 Ga A-type granitoids that occur in that region. Similarly, Dall’Agnol and others (2012) summarize important global associations between A-type granitoid rocks and a variety of important ore deposit types, particularly tin, high-field-strength elements (Zr, Hf, Nb, Ta), rare-earth elements, and iron oxide-copper-gold deposits. Consequently, the need to better understand relations between A-type granitoid rocks, tectonic setting, and magma petrogenesis, as well as their genetic associations with important types of ore deposits, suggests that developing a definitive geochemical, modal, and geochronologic database for these rocks in the conterminous United States is of considerable value.