Abstract

A suite of mafic dykes from the Underberg region of southern KwaZulu-Natal (South Africa) were intruded at ∼178 Ma, coincident in age with the major Okavango Dyke Swarm of Botswana, and also coincident with minor Karoo-related intrusions of the northern and central Lebombo. The dykes are all low-Ti–Zr tholeiites, they trend NW–SE and are presumed to continue into the Karoo central area of the Lesotho Highlands. In many respects, the Underberg dykes are similar to the majority of the low-Ti–Zr volcanic and subvolcanic intrusions of the Karoo; however, their 87Sr/86Sr and εNd isotope ratios are either ‘Ferrar-like’ (87Sr/86Sr ∼0·710; εNd < −3) or transitional between Karoo low-Ti–Zr and Ferrar low-Ti magmas. A potential Ferrar source for at least some of the Underberg dykes is supported by anisotropy of magnetic susceptibility analyses of the dyke suite, which demonstrate absolute flow direction from the SE to the NW, consistent with Gondwana reconstructions. The role of crustal contamination and combined fractional crystallization is also demonstrated to have played a key role in the petrogenesis of the Underberg dykes, involving a local upper crust contaminant. However, the composition of the ‘Ferrar-like’ dykes cannot be easily explained by AFC processes, but they do demonstrate that melting of a lithospheric mantle source enriched to a small degree by subduction-derived fluid was also important.

INTRODUCTION

Remnants of the Early Jurassic Karoo and Ferrar large igneous provinces (LIPs) are distributed across large parts of southern Africa and East Antarctica (Fig. 1). The geochemistry of the Karoo igneous rocks has been interpreted by a number of workers to indicate either derivation from an enriched lithospheric mantle source (e.g. Erlank, 1984) or crustal contamination of magmas derived from a lithospheric source. Others have proposed that the Karoo magmas were partial melts of a mantle plume source that were subsequently contaminated by lithospheric mantle components (Cox, 1992; Ellam et al., 1992; Sweeney et al., 1994).

Fig. 1.

(a) Geological extent of the Karoo province in southern Africa. The major lava units and sill complexes are highlighted, along with the Okavango dyke swarm and the Rooi Rand dyke swarm (RRDS). 1, New Amalfi Sheet; 2, Underberg; 3, Sani Pass; 4, Moshesh's Ford; 5, Monotsha Pass and Golden Gate. (b) Geological extent of the Ferrar magmatic province in East Antarctica. The Theron Mountains may be an area where Karoo and Ferrar magma types overlap. (c) Pre-break-up Gondwana reconstruction (∼180 Ma) showing key igneous provinces of the Karoo, Ferrar, and Chon Aike. FI, Falkland Islands; DML, Dronning Maud Land; WSTJ, Weddell Sea triple junction (Elliot & Fleming, 2000); AP, Antarctic Peninsula.

Fig. 1.

(a) Geological extent of the Karoo province in southern Africa. The major lava units and sill complexes are highlighted, along with the Okavango dyke swarm and the Rooi Rand dyke swarm (RRDS). 1, New Amalfi Sheet; 2, Underberg; 3, Sani Pass; 4, Moshesh's Ford; 5, Monotsha Pass and Golden Gate. (b) Geological extent of the Ferrar magmatic province in East Antarctica. The Theron Mountains may be an area where Karoo and Ferrar magma types overlap. (c) Pre-break-up Gondwana reconstruction (∼180 Ma) showing key igneous provinces of the Karoo, Ferrar, and Chon Aike. FI, Falkland Islands; DML, Dronning Maud Land; WSTJ, Weddell Sea triple junction (Elliot & Fleming, 2000); AP, Antarctic Peninsula.

The Ferrar province (Fig. 1), although essentially contemporaneous (Riley & Knight, 2001) with the Karoo volcanic province, is considerably different in chemistry. The erupted rocks of the Ferrar province are characterized by high SiO2, low TiO2, radiogenic 87Sr/86Sr (Kyle, 1980) and negative εNd, which has led several workers (e.g. Antonini et al., 1999) to suggest that processes involving contamination of the magmas by continental crust must have been important (e.g. Faure et al., 1974). Other workers (e.g. Kyle, 1980; Hergt, 2000) maintain that continental crust was not involved in the petrogenesis of Ferrar magmas, supported by their ‘mantle-like’ Os isotope ratios (Molzahn et al., 1996), and that their radiogenic 87Sr/86Sr is a characteristic of their mantle source. Central to the debate concerning the origin of any flood basalt province is establishing whether a mantle plume source existed and determining whether the role of the plume was restricted to conductive heat transfer to the lithosphere, or whether uncontaminated plume-derived magmas were erupted at the surface or intruded at upper crustal levels.

A suite of mafic dykes from the Underberg region of southern KwaZulu-Natal Province of South Africa (Fig. 2) crop out in an area where, based on previous geochemical studies (Elliot et al., 1999), Karoo and Ferrar magmatic provinces may overlap. We present the results of geochemical, geochronological and magma flow studies to constrain the petrogenesis of the dykes and to improve understanding of the relationship between the Karoo and Ferrar flood basalt provinces.

Fig. 2.

Distribution of dyke localities in the Underberg region of southern KwaZulu-Natal (South Africa). Lines on the sample locality indicate the strike direction of the dyke. Dashed lines indicate the probable continuation of dykes.

Fig. 2.

Distribution of dyke localities in the Underberg region of southern KwaZulu-Natal (South Africa). Lines on the sample locality indicate the strike direction of the dyke. Dashed lines indicate the probable continuation of dykes.

GEOLOGICAL SETTING

The intracratonic Karoo sedimentary sequence was deposited, from Permo-Carboniferous to Early Jurassic times, in a basin overlying the Archaean Kaapvaal Craton in the north and on the Proterozoic Namaqua–Natal Belt and Paleozoic Cape Supergroup in the south (Smith, 1990). The main sedimentary formations, with a total thickness ≤6 km, are named, from base to top: Dwyka, Ecca, Beaufort, Molteno, Elliot and Clarens. The Karoo igneous event, with the emplacement of the volcanic Drakensberg Group, marked the end of the Karoo basin evolution. This event consisted in the continental-scale eruption of tholeiitic basalt lavas and the intrusion of numerous dykes and sills of similar composition at 183 ± 1 Ma. Present-day outcrops of Karoo volcanic rocks are concentrated in the central area of the Karoo (predominantly Lesotho), the Lebombo rifted margin and NE Botswana, with local concentrations occurring elsewhere in South Africa, Botswana, Namibia and western Dronning Maud Land (Antarctica) (Fig. 1). Intrusive rocks of the Karoo volcanic province are more widespread, with a vast sill complex (Fig. 1) distributed over much of South Africa and Namibia (Chevallier & Woodford, 1999), and major dyke swarms occurring in Botswana (Okavango and south Botswana) and southern Lebombo (Rooi Rand).

The Karoo volcanic province has been divided into high- and low-Ti–Zr basalts (Cox et al., 1967), with low-Ti–Zr subprovinces dominating overall and high-Ti–Zr basalts widespread in northern Botswana, Zimbabwe (Jones et al., 2001), the Tuli syncline and the northern Lebombo (Duncan et al., 1990; Sweeney et al., 1994). Outside of the Karoo magmatic province, coeval high-Ti basalts crop out in the Falkland Islands (Mitchell et al., 1999) and the Ahlmannryggen region of western Dronning Maud Land (Harris et al., 1990; Riley et al., 2005).

The Ferrar magmatic province extends over 3500 km from the Theron Mountains of Antarctica (Fig. 1) to SE Australia and Tasmania. The volume of the entire province is relatively small (<500 000 km3) compared with other large igneous provinces (typically >106 km3) and a significant part of this volume is contained in the DufekForrestal layered mafic intrusion (Fleming et al., 1997). The basalts of the Ferrar province are entirely of the low-Ti–Zr type and are typically high SiO2 compared with Karoo compositions. The linear outcrop pattern (Fig. 1) of the Ferrar magmatic province is sub-parallel to the proto-Pacific margin of Gondwana, which has led some workers (e.g. Hergt et al., 1991) to attribute the chemistry of the Ferrar magmas to enrichment of their mantle source by subduction-derived fluids. Cox (1988), however, attributed the linear outcrop pattern to a similar-shaped heat source (a hot line). Elliot et al. (1999) suggested the Ferrar magmas originated from a unique focus and that the present-day outcrop is the result of long distance magma transport from this point source. They suggested that magma transport was ultimately controlled by an active rift system initiated in the Early Jurassic and that the point source for the magmas was a thermal anomaly at the Weddell Sea triple junction (Fig. 1c) (Elliot & Fleming, 2000), which was also adjudged to be responsible for the Karoo low-Ti basalts of southern Africa.

The synchroneity of the Ferrar and Karoo provinces is well recognized (e.g. Encarnación et al., 1996; Pálfy & Smith, 2000) as a result of detailed 40Ar–39Ar and U–Pb geochronology. A recent compilation of KarooFerrar high-precision age determinations corrected to a common standard and common monitor age (Riley & Knight, 2001) confirm an overlap between the Karoo and Ferrar provinces, although the Karoo peak of 183 ± 2 Ma is ∼3 Myr older than the Ferrar peak of 180·3 ± 2·2 Ma.

Underberg dykes

A suite of dykes that trends approximately NW–SE and crops out in the southern KwaZulu-Natal Province of SE Africa (Fig. 2), near the town of Underberg, has received very little attention. This dyke suite extends SE from the Karoo central area of Lesotho toward the coast (Fig. 2). The dykes are fine- to medium-grained dolerites and occur as rubbly outcrops, with coarser-grained weathered centres and finer-grained, sometimes glassy, intact margins. The dykes are typically >8 m width, with three dykes >45 m width, forming a clear bimodal population (Fig. 3a). Across the region, the dykes have a very uniform trend, with a strike orientation in the range 130–140° (Fig. 3b). This is different from the Okavango and southern Botswana dyke swarms, which trend consistently 110–120°. The Underberg dykes intrude sedimentary sequences of the Triassic Beaufort Group and the overlying Stormberg Group (Molteno, Elliot, Clarens formations), which consist of fine- to medium-grained sandstones, shales and mudstones (Turner, 1999). The Beaufort Group is overlain by the Molteno Formation, which consists of coarse, blue–grey sandstones. The overlying Elliot Formation consists of fine-grained red or purple shales and mudstones. The Early Jurassic Clarens Formation lies above the Elliot Formation and is made up of fine-grained cream sandstones.

Fig. 3.

(a) Frequency width diagrams and (b) frequency strike plots for the Underberg dykes.

Fig. 3.

(a) Frequency width diagrams and (b) frequency strike plots for the Underberg dykes.

The emplacement style of Karoo intrusions varies with stratigraphic height through the sedimentary sequence. At the base, thin sills dominate in the Dwyka and Ecca groups. Sills and sheets reach their maximum development in thickness and abundance within the Beaufort Group and are frequently transgressive and basin-shaped (Chevallier & Woodford, 1999). Cross-cutting dykes are also present in the Beaufort Group, but become more prominent in the overlying Molteno, Elliot and Clarens formations, which form the upper part of the sedimentary sequence.

Petrography

The dolerite dykes of the Underberg region are typically fine to medium grained and are feldspar-phyric. Rare phenocrysts of augite and unaltered olivine can also be identified in hand specimen. The plagioclase phenocrysts are set in a groundmass of smaller plagioclase, augite and Fe–Ti oxides. The dykes typically have an intergranular and/or subophitic texture involving euhedral plagioclase laths and anhedral or equant augite crystals. At least two-thirds of the samples contain olivine, which in most cases is altered or corroded, although relatively fresh cores are preserved in some cases and some grains retain their euhedral habit. Olivine replacement minerals include iddingsite, carbonate and serpentine.

Sample numbering

Sample stations all have the prefix of SA. (e.g. SA.13). Samples from the same locality collected for geochemistry have the suffix .1 (e.g. SA.13.1), whereas samples for anisotropy of magnetic susceptibility (AMS) have the suffix .2 (e.g. SA.13.2), or .3, if two margins of the dyke were sampled. The grid reference (latitude–longitude) is the same for all samples from the same locality.

GEOCHRONOLOGY

Previous studies

Karoo volcanic province

Early geochronology studies of the mafic lavas and sills from the Karoo Province largely relied upon whole-rock K–Ar and Rb–Sr data (e.g. Allsopp et al., 1984; Fitch & Miller, 1984). The K–Ar whole-rock method is now known to produce widely inaccurate results for volcanic rocks that have undergone even low-grade metamorphism (Walker & McDougall, 1982).

More recently, geochronology studies have been carried out using the 40Ar/39Ar and U–Pb methods. Duncan et al. (1997) reported a detailed 40Ar/39Ar incremental heating study of 32 mafic and silicic volcanic rocks (plagioclase mineral separates and whole-rock cores) from South Africa, Namibia and Antarctica. A 2 km lava succession in Lesotho yielded a close grouping of ages, such that the entire section was adjudged to have been erupted within ∼0·5 Myr at ∼183 Ma. Basaltic and rhyolitic volcanic rocks from the Lebombo–Mwenezi region have revealed a slightly broader age range, with two rhyolites yielding ages of 178·1 ± 0·6 and 179·7 ± 0·7 Ma and several mafic rocks giving ages between 181·2 ± 1·0 and 184·2 ± 0·6 Ma. Mafic sills, lavas, and dykes have also been analysed from the Marienthal area of Namibia, central and eastern South Africa, and KwaZulu-Natal, all of which yielded ages indistinguishable from the main period of Lesotho and Lebombo volcanism, ∼182 ± 1 Ma. Recent work by Riley et al. (2004) on the U–Pb (sensitive high-resolution ion microprobe; SHRIMP) geochronology of rhyolites from the Lebombo has improved the dating of this area. This work, combined with the existing 40Ar/39Ar data, indicates that the 12 km succession of volcanic rocks in the Lebombo rift was erupted in 1–2 Myr at ∼182 Ma.

The Okavango dyke swarm (Fig. 1) has been dated [40Ar/39Ar (whole-rock and plagioclase) geochronology] by Elburg & Goldberg (2000) and Le Gall et al. (2002), who have suggested an emplacement age of 178–179 Ma.

Ferrar magmatic province

Dating of the Ferrar magmatic province of East Antarctica has previously yielded a broad spread of ages (90–308 Ma; Elliot et al., 1985), although a ‘preferred’ age of 180 ± 5 Ma has been advocated as the best estimate (Elliot et al., 1985). Recent, high-precision ages for magmatic rocks of the Ferrar province also demonstrate a short-lived episode of magmatism. Heimann et al. (1994) determined 40Ar/39Ar ages in the range 176·4 ± 0·6 to 177·2 ± 0·5 Ma from different stratigraphical levels within the Kirkpatrick basalts. Very similar ages were reported by Elliot et al. (1999), in the range 174·9 ± 0·5 to 177·4 ± 0·5 Ma, for a number of sills along the Transantarctic Mountains.

Encarnación et al. (1996) used U–Pb geochronology on zircon and baddeleyite to determine the age of dolerite sills from the central Transantarctic Mountains and Victoria Land (Fig. 1), which yielded ages of 183·4 ± 1·4 and 183·8 ± 1·6 Ma, respectively. 40Ar/39Ar geochronology by Fleming et al. (1997) on feldspar and biotite separates from five dolerite sills yielded a range of plateau and total gas ages from 179·4 ± 0·7 to 181·0 ± 0·7 Ma. The age of emplacement of the Dufek Intrusion (Fig. 1) has been determined using U–Pb techniques on zircon separates (Minor & Mukasa, 1997), which gave crystallization ages of 182·7 ± 0·4 and 183·9 ± 0·4 Ma for a felsic dyke from the Dufek Massif and a capping granophyre intrusion, respectively.

Many of the recently published ages from the Karoo and Ferrar provinces were recalculated by Riley & Knight (2001) using a common neutron fluence monitor (MMhb-1) and a common age for that monitor (523·1 ± 2·6 Ma; Renne et al., 1998). Most ages changed very little (<1 Myr) when recalculated, with the exception of the 40Ar/39Ar ages of the Ferrar intrusive and volcanic rocks produced by the Ohio State University laboratory (Heimann et al., 1994; Fleming et al., 1997; Elliot et al., 1999). The published data from these workers yielded ages of ∼176–177 Ma, using the neutron fluence monitor, MON-4 and an assigned age for MMhb-1 of 513·5 Ma. These ages were recalculated by Riley & Knight (2001) to ∼180–181 Ma, which makes them consistent with other 40Ar/39Ar ages and U–Pb data.

Underberg dykes

There are no reported ages for the dyke suite near Underberg (Fig. 2), although Fitch & Miller (1984) reported both K–Ar and 40Ar/39Ar ages for several dykes that intrude the Lesotho Formation lavas at Monontsha Pass in NE Lesotho (Fig. 1). Based on dyke strike these dykes may well be a continuation of the Underberg dyke suite and yielded ages in the range 159–210 Ma, with preferred ages quoted at 159, 165 and 193 Ma for three olivine-bearing dykes. Encarnación et al. (1996) have dated (U–Pb) a granophyre from the New Amalfi sheet (Fig. 1) at 183·7 ± 0·6 Ma. The sheet is believed to be related to the Lesotho lavas and is fed by the Elephant's Head dyke, which crosscuts the lowermost lavas of the Lesotho lavas and is subparallel to the Underberg dykes.

This study

Three samples (SA.3.1, SA.7.1, SA.19.1) were selected for 40Ar/39Ar geochronology from across the Underberg region, providing the best possible spread based on the range of geochemical compositions.

Analytical methods

Samples were either 5 mm diameter whole-rock cores or copper-foil wrapped mineral separates, packaged in evacuated quartz vials, and were irradiated in the Oregon State University TRIGA Reactor for 6 h at 1 MW power on May 23, 2003. The neutron flux was measured using standard FCT-3 biotite, 28·03 Ma (Renne et al., 1994). Reactor temperatures can reach 270°C. Additionally, samples were baked at 195°C for 48 h during extraction line pump-down to ∼10−9 torr.

Depending on sample composition, the incremental heating experiment started in the range 400–600°C and was typically complete by 1400°C, using a Heine low-blank resistance furnace with a Ta–Nb crucible and Mo liner. Each heating step was of 20 min duration with an additional 5 min cooling and continued removal of active gases with St101 Zr–Al and St172 Zr–V–Fe getters.

A MAP 215-50 rare gas mass spectrometer source at 3000 V, and equipped with a Johnston MM1-1SG electron multiplier at 2050 V, was used for analysis. During the 15 min analysis time per mass peak height, data were collected for 10 cycles of masses 35–40 for baselines and peak tops. Data were reduced and age calculations completed using ArArCALC v2.2 software for 40Ar/39Ar geochronology (Koppers, 2002).

Results

The 40Ar/39Ar results are presented in Table 1 and Fig. 4. Plagioclase separated from sample SA.3.1 yielded an excellent mid-temperature, four-step plateau (176·4 ± 1·2 Ma; Fig. 4a) comprising 70% of total gas released, which is the preferred age. There is slight 40Ar loss (first step only) and 39Ar recoil at high temperature. The isochron is concordant at 176·1 ± 4·4 Ma. Plagioclase separated from sample SA.7.1 also yielded an excellent mid- to high-temperature plateau (176·1 ± 1·2 Ma; Fig. 4b) comprising 78% of gas released, which is the preferred age. Again there is slight 40Ar loss (first step only) and 39Ar recoil (step 2). The isochron is concordant at 177·1 ± 1·2 Ma. Whole-rock sample SA.19.1 provided a good low- to mid-temperature, four-step plateau (181·7 ± 0·7 Ma; Fig. 4c) comprising 54% of total gas released. There is evidence of 40Ar loss at low temperature and 39Ar recoil at high temperature. There is a ‘secondary’ plateau (steps 7–9) that gives a mean age of 175·3 ± 1·2 Ma. The corresponding isochron for these high-temperature steps is 172·1 ± 2·2 Ma, and an initial 40Ar/36Ar ratio of 428 (distinct from the atmospheric value of 296). There is therefore a possibility that this dyke contains excess 40Ar, which may be responsible for the older step ages. On this basis, SA.19.1 could be contemporaneous with SA.3.1 and SA.7.1.

Fig. 4.

The 39Ar release spectra for samples SA.3.1, SA.7.1 and SA.19.1. All three samples generate plateaux and satisfy the criteria of three release steps comprising 50% of the total release. Also shown are the isochron diagrams for the three samples. For sample SA.19.1, the numbers next to five points in the isochron are the highest temperature steps (numbers are°C), which are collinear and define an isochron somewhat younger (173 Ma) than the isochron shown by steps 3–6 (181 Ma). The intercept (40Ar/36Ar) is significantly above the atmospheric composition, indicating initial excess Ar, so two interpretations are possible.

Fig. 4.

The 39Ar release spectra for samples SA.3.1, SA.7.1 and SA.19.1. All three samples generate plateaux and satisfy the criteria of three release steps comprising 50% of the total release. Also shown are the isochron diagrams for the three samples. For sample SA.19.1, the numbers next to five points in the isochron are the highest temperature steps (numbers are°C), which are collinear and define an isochron somewhat younger (173 Ma) than the isochron shown by steps 3–6 (181 Ma). The intercept (40Ar/36Ar) is significantly above the atmospheric composition, indicating initial excess Ar, so two interpretations are possible.

Table 1:

Summary of 40Ar/39Ar radiometric ages for dykes from southern KwaZulu-Natal

Sample
 
Material
 
Total fusion age (Ma)
 
2σ error
 
Plateau age (Ma)
 
2σ error
 
N
 
MSWD
 
Isochron age (Ma)
 
2σ error
 
40Ar/36Ar initial
 
2σ error
 
J
 
SA.3.1 feldspar 174·74 1·00 176·36 1·23 4/9 1·92 176·08 4·36 307·1 184·4 0·001540 
SA.7.1 feldspar 176·11 0·94 176·13 1·17 4/7 2·18 177·11 1·20 257·6 50·6 0·001563 
SA.19.1 whole rock 178·64 0·59 181·72 0·67 4/11 0·17 181·53 0·97 285·1 32·4 0·001750 
SA.19.1    175·30 1·20 5/11 4·00 172·09 2·19 427·8 63·9  
Sample
 
Material
 
Total fusion age (Ma)
 
2σ error
 
Plateau age (Ma)
 
2σ error
 
N
 
MSWD
 
Isochron age (Ma)
 
2σ error
 
40Ar/36Ar initial
 
2σ error
 
J
 
SA.3.1 feldspar 174·74 1·00 176·36 1·23 4/9 1·92 176·08 4·36 307·1 184·4 0·001540 
SA.7.1 feldspar 176·11 0·94 176·13 1·17 4/7 2·18 177·11 1·20 257·6 50·6 0·001563 
SA.19.1 whole rock 178·64 0·59 181·72 0·67 4/11 0·17 181·53 0·97 285·1 32·4 0·001750 
SA.19.1    175·30 1·20 5/11 4·00 172·09 2·19 427·8 63·9  

WHOLE-ROCK GEOCHEMISTRY OF DYKES

Analytical techniques

Powders for geochemical analysis were prepared from 2–3 kg of fresh rock. Samples were reduced to pass a 1700 µm sieve using a hardened steel fly press. The powders were produced using an agate Tema-mill. Sr and Nd isotope compositions were measured at the NERC Isotope Geosciences Laboratory (Keyworth, UK) on a Finnigan-MAT 262 mass spectrometer. Rb–Sr and Sm–Nd analysis followed procedures described by Pankhurst & Rapela (1995). Sr isotope composition was determined in multidynamic peak-jumping mode. During the period of analysis, 22 analyses of the Sr isotope standard NBS987 gave a value of 0·710259 ± 0·000008 (2σ errors). Nd-isotope composition was determined in static collection mode. Twenty-four analyses of the in-house J&M Nd isotope standard gave a value of 0·511196 ± 0·000022 (2σ errors); reported 143Nd/144Nd values were normalized to a value of 0·511130 for this standard, equivalent to 0·511864 for La Jolla.

Major and selected trace element whole-rock analysis was by standard X-ray fluorescence (XRF) techniques at the Department of Geology, University of Keele, following the methods described by Floyd (1985). Higher precision trace element abundances were determined by inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS) at the University of Durham. The analytical methods, precision, and detection limits have been detailed by Ottley et al. (2003).

Classification

The major and trace element and Sr–Nd isotope data are reported in Table 2. The analysed samples are subalkaline and range in composition from basalt to basaltic andesite (Fig. 5) and on the basis of their CIPW norms (Yoder & Tilley, 1962) they can all be classified as quartz tholeiites (Table 2), although two samples (SA.19.1, SA.20.1) are on the boundary between quartz and olivine tholeiites. When the data for the Underberg dykes are plotted against MgO (wt %) as an index of differentiation (Fig. 6), Ni is strongly correlated with MgO, suggesting olivine control during magmatic differentiation. Al2O3 increases as MgO decreases, suggesting that plagioclase fractionation is not important until MgO contents fall below ∼7 wt %. Many of the major and trace elements exhibit compositional trends typical of tholeiites, with negative correlations of Fe2O3, TiO2, Zr and Y with MgO (Fig. 6).

Fig. 5.

Total alkali vs SiO2 diagram (wt %) for the Underberg dyke suite. The samples are basalt or basaltic andesite and are all classified as quartz tholeiites based on their CIPW norms. Classification boundaries are from Le Bas et al. (1986). Data from Table 2.

Fig. 5.

Total alkali vs SiO2 diagram (wt %) for the Underberg dyke suite. The samples are basalt or basaltic andesite and are all classified as quartz tholeiites based on their CIPW norms. Classification boundaries are from Le Bas et al. (1986). Data from Table 2.

Fig. 6.

Variations in Zr, TiO2, Al2O3, Fe2O3, Ni, Y, 87Sr/86Sri and εNdi vs MgO for the Underberg dyke suite.

Fig. 6.

Variations in Zr, TiO2, Al2O3, Fe2O3, Ni, Y, 87Sr/86Sri and εNdi vs MgO for the Underberg dyke suite.

Table 2:

Whole-rock analyses of dolerite dykes from southern KwaZulu-Natal (South Africa)

Sample: SA.2.1 SA.3.1 SA.4.1 SA.5.1 SA.6.1 SA.7.1 SA.9.1 SA.10.1 SA.11.1 
Latitude (S): 29·5740 29·5846 29·5822 29·6514 29·6543 29·8394 29·9359 29·8998 29·8686 
Longitude (E): 29·5978 29·6147 29·6274 29·5956 29·5475 29·5161 29·4875 29·5588 29·6059 
Altitude (m):
 
1447
 
1389
 
1395
 
1436
 
1388
 
1416
 
1774
 
1551
 
1545
 
SiO2 51·47 52·43 50·26 54·49 53·61 50·68 49·87 51·33 49·59 
TiO2 1·09 0·89 1·13 1·12 1·14 1·30 1·36 0·99 1·10 
Al2O3 14·71 15·18 14·86 14·44 14·60 14·62 14·66 14·99 16·38 
Fe2O3(T) 11·67 9·94 12·67 10·43 11·43 13·10 10·85 11·16 10·36 
MnO 0·18 0·16 0·19 0·15 0·17 0·20 0·16 0·18 0·16 
MgO 6·04 8·05 6·47 5·71 5·88 6·21 9·62 7·43 6·64 
CaO 10·55 10·73 10·47 8·60 9·71 10·47 10·16 10·68 11·65 
Na22·35 2·11 2·55 2·69 2·59 2·44 2·25 2·23 2·59 
K20·57 0·56 0·76 0·88 0·70 0·74 0·49 0·52 0·71 
P2O5 0·19 0·10 0·17 0·18 0·15 0·21 0·20 0·17 0·23 
LOI 0·40 0·28 0·03 0·84 0·20 0·02 0·46 0·40 0·35 
Total 99·23 100·44 99·56 99·53 100·17 99·99 100·08 100·08 99·78 
mg-no. 51·5 62·4 51·1 52·9 51·3 49·3 64·5 57·7 56·8 
Cr 143 397 130 129 152 139 703 282 274 
Ni 50 90 57 55 65 54 182 78 84 
Co 40·4 47·4 44·5 40·1 41·7 43·5 50·3 44·8 39·5 
Ga 17·83 16·45 17·94 19·82 20·02 18·60 17·07 16·77 17·99 
Rb 12·14 14·73 19·31 24·63 19·65 16·44 8·33 11·10 11·56 
Sr 221·2 138·6 224·5 296·6 231·7 191·6 255·5 214·5 337·9 
27·9 24·6 28·8 27·5 28·3 33·7 23·5 28·1 23·9 
Zr 108 81 104 121 113 124 95 94 92 
Nb 8·41 2·88 5·84 7·14 4·92 7·49 4·35 5·77 14·41 
Cs 1·03 0·39 0·38 0·98 0·36 0·35 1·55 1·05 0·39 
Ba 207 190 232 367 310 237 184 188 187 
La 11·1 8·1 10·6 18·7 12·8 12·2 7·9 9·4 11·9 
Ce 23·7 17·6 22·9 37·4 26·9 26·3 17·8 20·5 24·6 
Pr 3·29 2·49 3·20 4·78 3·64 3·69 2·63 2·87 3·33 
Nd 14·9 11·3 14·4 19·7 16·1 16·8 12·4 13·1 14·7 
Sm 3·55 2·92 3·68 4·49 4·13 4·19 3·25 3·30 3·42 
Eu 1·16 0·89 1·14 1·34 1·26 1·29 1·16 1·08 1·21 
Gd 4·35 3·67 4·48 5·08 4·88 5·14 3·86 4·09 4·02 
Tb 0·732 0·650 0·760 0·823 0·816 0·878 0·639 0·699 0·665 
Dy 4·46 3·96 4·76 4·77 4·82 5·36 3·86 4·38 3·94 
Ho 0·96 0·85 1·00 0·96 0·97 1·16 0·81 0·95 0·82 
Er 2·62 2·33 2·74 2·48 2·54 3·20 2·18 2·62 2·20 
Tm 0·408 0·362 0·428 0·374 0·377 0·497 0·331 0·400 0·330 
Yb 2·60 2·30 2·78 2·29 2·37 3·19 2·12 2·59 2·12 
Lu 0·43 0·38 0·46 0·36 0·37 0·52 0·34 0·43 0·34 
Hf 2·68 2·17 2·68 3·04 2·93 3·15 2·41 2·40 2·19 
Ta 0·503 0·234 0·389 0·442 0·345 0·454 0·310 0·370 0·813 
Pb 2·78 3·44 3·15 5·38 4·83 3·81 2·61 2·77 1·32 
Th 1·45 1·81 1·62 3·12 2·81 1·80 0·73 1·28 1·24 
0·31 0·23 0·34 0·69 0·62 0·38 0·15 0·29 0·31 
Rb 12·1 14·7 19·3 24·6 19·7 16·4 8·3  11·56 
Sr 221·2 138·6 224·5 296·6 231·7 191·6 255·5  337·9 
87Rb/86Sr 0·158711 0·307657 0·248803 0·240327 0·245441 0·248288 0·094296  0·098982 
87Sr/86Srm 0·706150 0·709748 0·707915 0·710585 0·710625 0·706828 0·705543  0·704757 
87Sr/86Sr180 0·705744 0·708961 0·707278 0·709970 0·709997 0·706193 0·705302  0·704504 
Sm 3·75 2·89 3·65 4·52 4·24 5·69 3·45  3·39 
Nd 14·64 10·64 13·79 19·04 15·97 21·64 12·57  13·811 
147Sm/144Nd 0·1549 0·1642 0·1599 0·1434 0·1605 0·1590 0·1660  0·1484 
143Nd/144Ndm 0·512485 0·512406 0·512419 0·511834 0·512132 0·512467 0·512483  0·512628 
εNd180 −2·0 −3·8 −3·4 −14·5 −9·0 −2·5 −2·3  0·9 
Age 176·4 + 1·2    176·1 + 1·2     
Sample: SA.2.1 SA.3.1 SA.4.1 SA.5.1 SA.6.1 SA.7.1 SA.9.1 SA.10.1 SA.11.1 
Latitude (S): 29·5740 29·5846 29·5822 29·6514 29·6543 29·8394 29·9359 29·8998 29·8686 
Longitude (E): 29·5978 29·6147 29·6274 29·5956 29·5475 29·5161 29·4875 29·5588 29·6059 
Altitude (m):
 
1447
 
1389
 
1395
 
1436
 
1388
 
1416
 
1774
 
1551
 
1545
 
SiO2 51·47 52·43 50·26 54·49 53·61 50·68 49·87 51·33 49·59 
TiO2 1·09 0·89 1·13 1·12 1·14 1·30 1·36 0·99 1·10 
Al2O3 14·71 15·18 14·86 14·44 14·60 14·62 14·66 14·99 16·38 
Fe2O3(T) 11·67 9·94 12·67 10·43 11·43 13·10 10·85 11·16 10·36 
MnO 0·18 0·16 0·19 0·15 0·17 0·20 0·16 0·18 0·16 
MgO 6·04 8·05 6·47 5·71 5·88 6·21 9·62 7·43 6·64 
CaO 10·55 10·73 10·47 8·60 9·71 10·47 10·16 10·68 11·65 
Na22·35 2·11 2·55 2·69 2·59 2·44 2·25 2·23 2·59 
K20·57 0·56 0·76 0·88 0·70 0·74 0·49 0·52 0·71 
P2O5 0·19 0·10 0·17 0·18 0·15 0·21 0·20 0·17 0·23 
LOI 0·40 0·28 0·03 0·84 0·20 0·02 0·46 0·40 0·35 
Total 99·23 100·44 99·56 99·53 100·17 99·99 100·08 100·08 99·78 
mg-no. 51·5 62·4 51·1 52·9 51·3 49·3 64·5 57·7 56·8 
Cr 143 397 130 129 152 139 703 282 274 
Ni 50 90 57 55 65 54 182 78 84 
Co 40·4 47·4 44·5 40·1 41·7 43·5 50·3 44·8 39·5 
Ga 17·83 16·45 17·94 19·82 20·02 18·60 17·07 16·77 17·99 
Rb 12·14 14·73 19·31 24·63 19·65 16·44 8·33 11·10 11·56 
Sr 221·2 138·6 224·5 296·6 231·7 191·6 255·5 214·5 337·9 
27·9 24·6 28·8 27·5 28·3 33·7 23·5 28·1 23·9 
Zr 108 81 104 121 113 124 95 94 92 
Nb 8·41 2·88 5·84 7·14 4·92 7·49 4·35 5·77 14·41 
Cs 1·03 0·39 0·38 0·98 0·36 0·35 1·55 1·05 0·39 
Ba 207 190 232 367 310 237 184 188 187 
La 11·1 8·1 10·6 18·7 12·8 12·2 7·9 9·4 11·9 
Ce 23·7 17·6 22·9 37·4 26·9 26·3 17·8 20·5 24·6 
Pr 3·29 2·49 3·20 4·78 3·64 3·69 2·63 2·87 3·33 
Nd 14·9 11·3 14·4 19·7 16·1 16·8 12·4 13·1 14·7 
Sm 3·55 2·92 3·68 4·49 4·13 4·19 3·25 3·30 3·42 
Eu 1·16 0·89 1·14 1·34 1·26 1·29 1·16 1·08 1·21 
Gd 4·35 3·67 4·48 5·08 4·88 5·14 3·86 4·09 4·02 
Tb 0·732 0·650 0·760 0·823 0·816 0·878 0·639 0·699 0·665 
Dy 4·46 3·96 4·76 4·77 4·82 5·36 3·86 4·38 3·94 
Ho 0·96 0·85 1·00 0·96 0·97 1·16 0·81 0·95 0·82 
Er 2·62 2·33 2·74 2·48 2·54 3·20 2·18 2·62 2·20 
Tm 0·408 0·362 0·428 0·374 0·377 0·497 0·331 0·400 0·330 
Yb 2·60 2·30 2·78 2·29 2·37 3·19 2·12 2·59 2·12 
Lu 0·43 0·38 0·46 0·36 0·37 0·52 0·34 0·43 0·34 
Hf 2·68 2·17 2·68 3·04 2·93 3·15 2·41 2·40 2·19 
Ta 0·503 0·234 0·389 0·442 0·345 0·454 0·310 0·370 0·813 
Pb 2·78 3·44 3·15 5·38 4·83 3·81 2·61 2·77 1·32 
Th 1·45 1·81 1·62 3·12 2·81 1·80 0·73 1·28 1·24 
0·31 0·23 0·34 0·69 0·62 0·38 0·15 0·29 0·31 
Rb 12·1 14·7 19·3 24·6 19·7 16·4 8·3  11·56 
Sr 221·2 138·6 224·5 296·6 231·7 191·6 255·5  337·9 
87Rb/86Sr 0·158711 0·307657 0·248803 0·240327 0·245441 0·248288 0·094296  0·098982 
87Sr/86Srm 0·706150 0·709748 0·707915 0·710585 0·710625 0·706828 0·705543  0·704757 
87Sr/86Sr180 0·705744 0·708961 0·707278 0·709970 0·709997 0·706193 0·705302  0·704504 
Sm 3·75 2·89 3·65 4·52 4·24 5·69 3·45  3·39 
Nd 14·64 10·64 13·79 19·04 15·97 21·64 12·57  13·811 
147Sm/144Nd 0·1549 0·1642 0·1599 0·1434 0·1605 0·1590 0·1660  0·1484 
143Nd/144Ndm 0·512485 0·512406 0·512419 0·511834 0·512132 0·512467 0·512483  0·512628 
εNd180 −2·0 −3·8 −3·4 −14·5 −9·0 −2·5 −2·3  0·9 
Age 176·4 + 1·2    176·1 + 1·2     
Sample: SA.12.1 SA.13.1 SA.14.1 SA.15.1 SA.16.1 SA.17.1 SA.18.1 SA.19.1 SA.20.1 
Latitude (S): 29·7875 29·8577 29·8587 29·9528 30·0117 30·0339 30·0895 30·1562 30·2402 
Longitude (E): 29·4537 29·4324 29·4345 29·3574 29·3520 29·3498 29·3302 29·2392 29·3275 
Altitude (m):
 
1530
 
1763
 
1775
 
1574
 
1676
 
1861
 
1803
 
1759
 
1579
 
SiO2 50·82 50·11 52·52 52·55 51·92 51·97 51·84 48·81 49·51 
TiO2 1·29 1·25 1·12 1·12 1·10 1·06 1·18 1·10 0·85 
Al2O3 14·59 15·87 14·05 13·95 14·15 14·07 14·19 14·03 13·93 
Fe2O3(T) 13·14 11·09 12·11 12·15 12·58 11·07 12·42 11·87 10·40 
MnO 0·19 0·18 0·18 0·18 0·19 0·17 0·19 0·18 0·16 
MgO 6·13 6·26 6·12 6·28 6·28 7·43 6·56 11·12 11·18 
CaO 10·20 11·23 10·54 10·50 10·81 10·43 10·43 10·68 11·35 
Na22·43 2·60 2·26 2·34 2·29 2·29 2·45 2·11 1·95 
K21·00 0·53 0·62 0·65 0·64 0·57 0·58 0·42 0·34 
P2O5 0·21 0·26 0·16 0·19 0·16 0·15 0·19 0·21 0·16 
LOI 0·06 0·58 0·03 0·25 0·10 0·54 0·22 −0·18 0·11 
Total 100·07 99·94 99·72 100·16 100·22 99·75 100·26 100·34 99·93 
mg-no. 48·9 53·6 50·9 51·4 50·6 57·9 52·0 65·8 68·8 
Cr 143 227 128 227 125 332 238 730 837 
Ni 49 80 58 51 60 87 53 256 267 
Co 42·8 38·9 45·4 44·1 45·6 45·8 43·3 57·7 57·2 
Ga 18·26 18·44 18·07 18·04 17·90 16·87 17·76 16·21 15·44 
Rb 20·58 10·20 15·51 12·69 14·43 11·83 12·44 7·84 6·80 
Sr 241·5 318·8 200·4 214·6 200·3 210·4 222·7 249·8 255·7 
33·0 26·8 29·2 30·5 29·2 25·2 30·6 21·7 17·7 
Zr 123 105 104 118 104 82 116 81 62 
Nb 7·41 16·67 5·84 8·40 5·79 7·34 7·50 7·80 5·90 
Cs 0·40 2·04 0·62 0·36 0·63 1·01 0·36 0·78 0·44 
Ba 688 191 199 217 199 188 291 178 207 
La 11·7 13·7 10·3 12·3 10·2 8·6 11·9 7·6 5·9 
Ce 25·5 28·4 22·3 26·0 22·2 18·2 25·7 17·4 13·5 
Pr 3·55 3·79 3·11 3·59 3·11 2·54 3·56 2·56 1·99 
Nd 16·1 16·6 14·1 15·9 14·1 11·6 16·0 12·2 9·5 
Sm 4·05 3·83 3·61 3·83 3·61 3·02 3·96 3·14 2·51 
Eu 1·27 1·33 1·14 1·19 1·13 1·04 1·19 1·11 0·91 
Gd 5·06 4·53 4·39 4·60 4·43 3·80 4·69 3·87 3·05 
Tb 0·853 0·745 0·755 0·788 0·755 0·654 0·792 0·619 0·500 
Dy 5·20 4·44 4·67 4·76 4·60 3·99 4·85 3·56 2·90 
Ho 1·13 0·93 0·99 1·02 1·00 0·86 1·05 0·74 0·60 
Er 3·10 2·48 2·73 2·82 2·73 2·37 2·85 1·97 1·60 
Tm 0·483 0·377 0·418 0·438 0·426 0·368 0·441 0·295 0·238 
Yb 3·14 2·39 2·73 2·86 2·71 2·35 2·85 1·88 1·51 
Lu 0·51 0·38 0·44 0·47 0·45 0·37 0·47 0·30 0·24 
Hf 3·11 2·53 2·63 2·96 2·67 2·11 2·96 2·04 1·60 
Ta 0·447 0·904 0·371 0·482 0·376 0·426 0·425 0·436 0·362 
Pb 3·34 1·77 3·29 3·59 3·06 2·45 3·55 1·65 1·28 
Th 1·74 1·43 1·59 1·71 1·59 1·19 1·77 0·73 0·59 
0·37 0·34 0·33 0·36 0·33 0·27 0·33 0·19 0·15 
Rb 20·58 10·20  12·69 14·43 11·83 12·44 7·84 6·80 
Sr 241·5 318·8  214·6 200·3 210·4 222·7 249·8 255·7 
87Rb/86Sr 0·246587 0·092544  0·170990 0·208460 0·162693 0·161630 0·090794 0·076940 
87Sr/86Srm 0·708114 0·704784  0·706974 0·707349 0·705952 0·707005 0·704655 0·704804 
87Sr/86Sr180 0·707483 0·704547  0·706536 0·706816 0·705536 0·706591 0·704423 0·704607 
Sm 3·98 3·95  3·79 3·60 3·04 3·92 2·67 3·43 
Nd 15·10 16·08  14·95 13·56 11·21 15·28 9·54 12·41 
147Sm/144Nd 0·1593 0·1486  0·1531 0·1604 0·1638 0·1549 0·1689 0·1671 
143Nd/144Ndm 0·512463 0·512637  0·512419 0·512418 0·512553 0·512441 0·512570 0·512560 
εNd180 −2·6 1·1  −3·3 −3·5 −0·9 −2·9 −0·7 −0·8 
Age        181·7 + 0·7  
Sample: SA.12.1 SA.13.1 SA.14.1 SA.15.1 SA.16.1 SA.17.1 SA.18.1 SA.19.1 SA.20.1 
Latitude (S): 29·7875 29·8577 29·8587 29·9528 30·0117 30·0339 30·0895 30·1562 30·2402 
Longitude (E): 29·4537 29·4324 29·4345 29·3574 29·3520 29·3498 29·3302 29·2392 29·3275 
Altitude (m):
 
1530
 
1763
 
1775
 
1574
 
1676
 
1861
 
1803
 
1759
 
1579
 
SiO2 50·82 50·11 52·52 52·55 51·92 51·97 51·84 48·81 49·51 
TiO2 1·29 1·25 1·12 1·12 1·10 1·06 1·18 1·10 0·85 
Al2O3 14·59 15·87 14·05 13·95 14·15 14·07 14·19 14·03 13·93 
Fe2O3(T) 13·14 11·09 12·11 12·15 12·58 11·07 12·42 11·87 10·40 
MnO 0·19 0·18 0·18 0·18 0·19 0·17 0·19 0·18 0·16 
MgO 6·13 6·26 6·12 6·28 6·28 7·43 6·56 11·12 11·18 
CaO 10·20 11·23 10·54 10·50 10·81 10·43 10·43 10·68 11·35 
Na22·43 2·60 2·26 2·34 2·29 2·29 2·45 2·11 1·95 
K21·00 0·53 0·62 0·65 0·64 0·57 0·58 0·42 0·34 
P2O5 0·21 0·26 0·16 0·19 0·16 0·15 0·19 0·21 0·16 
LOI 0·06 0·58 0·03 0·25 0·10 0·54 0·22 −0·18 0·11 
Total 100·07 99·94 99·72 100·16 100·22 99·75 100·26 100·34 99·93 
mg-no. 48·9 53·6 50·9 51·4 50·6 57·9 52·0 65·8 68·8 
Cr 143 227 128 227 125 332 238 730 837 
Ni 49 80 58 51 60 87 53 256 267 
Co 42·8 38·9 45·4 44·1 45·6 45·8 43·3 57·7 57·2 
Ga 18·26 18·44 18·07 18·04 17·90 16·87 17·76 16·21 15·44 
Rb 20·58 10·20 15·51 12·69 14·43 11·83 12·44 7·84 6·80 
Sr 241·5 318·8 200·4 214·6 200·3 210·4 222·7 249·8 255·7 
33·0 26·8 29·2 30·5 29·2 25·2 30·6 21·7 17·7 
Zr 123 105 104 118 104 82 116 81 62 
Nb 7·41 16·67 5·84 8·40 5·79 7·34 7·50 7·80 5·90 
Cs 0·40 2·04 0·62 0·36 0·63 1·01 0·36 0·78 0·44 
Ba 688 191 199 217 199 188 291 178 207 
La 11·7 13·7 10·3 12·3 10·2 8·6 11·9 7·6 5·9 
Ce 25·5 28·4 22·3 26·0 22·2 18·2 25·7 17·4 13·5 
Pr 3·55 3·79 3·11 3·59 3·11 2·54 3·56 2·56 1·99 
Nd 16·1 16·6 14·1 15·9 14·1 11·6 16·0 12·2 9·5 
Sm 4·05 3·83 3·61 3·83 3·61 3·02 3·96 3·14 2·51 
Eu 1·27 1·33 1·14 1·19 1·13 1·04 1·19 1·11 0·91 
Gd 5·06 4·53 4·39 4·60 4·43 3·80 4·69 3·87 3·05 
Tb 0·853 0·745 0·755 0·788 0·755 0·654 0·792 0·619 0·500 
Dy 5·20 4·44 4·67 4·76 4·60 3·99 4·85 3·56 2·90 
Ho 1·13 0·93 0·99 1·02 1·00 0·86 1·05 0·74 0·60 
Er 3·10 2·48 2·73 2·82 2·73 2·37 2·85 1·97 1·60 
Tm 0·483 0·377 0·418 0·438 0·426 0·368 0·441 0·295 0·238 
Yb 3·14 2·39 2·73 2·86 2·71 2·35 2·85 1·88 1·51 
Lu 0·51 0·38 0·44 0·47 0·45 0·37 0·47 0·30 0·24 
Hf 3·11 2·53 2·63 2·96 2·67 2·11 2·96 2·04 1·60 
Ta 0·447 0·904 0·371 0·482 0·376 0·426 0·425 0·436 0·362 
Pb 3·34 1·77 3·29 3·59 3·06 2·45 3·55 1·65 1·28 
Th 1·74 1·43 1·59 1·71 1·59 1·19 1·77 0·73 0·59 
0·37 0·34 0·33 0·36 0·33 0·27 0·33 0·19 0·15 
Rb 20·58 10·20  12·69 14·43 11·83 12·44 7·84 6·80 
Sr 241·5 318·8  214·6 200·3 210·4 222·7 249·8 255·7 
87Rb/86Sr 0·246587 0·092544  0·170990 0·208460 0·162693 0·161630 0·090794 0·076940 
87Sr/86Srm 0·708114 0·704784  0·706974 0·707349 0·705952 0·707005 0·704655 0·704804 
87Sr/86Sr180 0·707483 0·704547  0·706536 0·706816 0·705536 0·706591 0·704423 0·704607 
Sm 3·98 3·95  3·79 3·60 3·04 3·92 2·67 3·43 
Nd 15·10 16·08  14·95 13·56 11·21 15·28 9·54 12·41 
147Sm/144Nd 0·1593 0·1486  0·1531 0·1604 0·1638 0·1549 0·1689 0·1671 
143Nd/144Ndm 0·512463 0·512637  0·512419 0·512418 0·512553 0·512441 0·512570 0·512560 
εNd180 −2·6 1·1  −3·3 −3·5 −0·9 −2·9 −0·7 −0·8 
Age        181·7 + 0·7  

m, measured.

In common with other studies of Mesozoic and older flood basalt provinces we primarily use the incompatible high field strength elements (HFSE; Ti, Zr, Y, Nb) as discriminants between magma types. These elements are considered largely immobile during low-temperature alteration processes (e.g. Peate, 1997) and ratios between them are not significantly modified by moderate amounts of fractional crystallization or susceptible to variations in the degree of partial melting (e.g. Luttinen & Furnes, 2000). Zr can be used as an effective index of differentiation in magmas that do not crystallize zircon. These discriminants are subsequently supported by variations in 87Sr/86Sr, 143Nd/144Nd, rare earth element (REE) and other major and trace elements and their ratios.

The Underberg dykes are all low-Ti–Zr (LTZ) tholeiites with TiO2 <1·5 wt % and Zr <150 ppm (Fig. 7), consistent with Sweeney et al.'s (1994) classification of a Karoo low-Ti magma type. Geochemically they overlap with the majority of low-Ti basalt types of the Karoo, including the once-contiguous Dronning Maud Land (Fig. 1) lavas from Kirwanveggen, Heimefrontfjella and Vestfjella (Harris et al., 1990; Luttinen & Furnes, 2000). They also overlap with the principal field of Ferrar tholeiites (Antonini et al., 1999). The Underberg dykes have SiO2 contents in the range 48·8–54·5 wt % and have typically low Mg numbers (48·9–68·8; mean of 55·4; Table 2).

Fig. 7.

Variation in Zr vs TiO2 for KwaZulu-Natal dykes shown in comparison with dykes from the Ahlmannryggen (DML, groups 1–4; Riley et al., 2005), Kirwan lavas (Harris et al., 1990), Karoo central area (Marsh et al., 1997), Rooi Rand dyke swarm (Duncan et al., 1990) Letaba Formation, Lebombo HTZ basalts (Sweeney et al., 1994), and average Ferrar (Antonini et al., 1999).

Fig. 7.

Variation in Zr vs TiO2 for KwaZulu-Natal dykes shown in comparison with dykes from the Ahlmannryggen (DML, groups 1–4; Riley et al., 2005), Kirwan lavas (Harris et al., 1990), Karoo central area (Marsh et al., 1997), Rooi Rand dyke swarm (Duncan et al., 1990) Letaba Formation, Lebombo HTZ basalts (Sweeney et al., 1994), and average Ferrar (Antonini et al., 1999).

Cr and Ni contents are varied (Cr 125–837 ppm; Ni 49–267 ppm). The Underberg dykes are all light REE (LREE) enriched, with (La/Lu)N ranging from 2·2 to 5·3, and typically have flat middle REE (MREE) to heavy REE (HREE) chondrite-normalized patterns (Fig. 8). Most samples have a distinctive negative Eu-anomaly as a result of plagioclase fractionation. The multi-element variations in Fig. 9 are characterized by distinct troughs at Ta–Nb, P and Ti, when normalized to primitive mantle; however, four samples (SA.11.1, SA.13.1, SA.19.1, SA.20.1; dashed lines in Fig. 9) have flatter multi-element patterns with no marked troughs at Ta–Nb and P.

Fig. 8.

Chondrite (Nakamura, 1974) normalized REE diagrams for Underberg dykes.

Fig. 8.

Chondrite (Nakamura, 1974) normalized REE diagrams for Underberg dykes.

Fig. 9.

N-MORB normalized incompatible element diagrams for the Underberg dykes. Four samples (SA.11.1, SA.13.1, SA.19.1, SA.20.1) are shown as dashed lines and are distinct from the other samples as they do not possess negative Ta, Nb and P anomalies. Normalizing values are taken from Sun & McDonough (1989).

Fig. 9.

N-MORB normalized incompatible element diagrams for the Underberg dykes. Four samples (SA.11.1, SA.13.1, SA.19.1, SA.20.1) are shown as dashed lines and are distinct from the other samples as they do not possess negative Ta, Nb and P anomalies. Normalizing values are taken from Sun & McDonough (1989).

The Underberg dykes show a significant range of variation in a diagram of Th/Yb vs Nb/Yb (Fig. 10) where they are plotted relative to the mid-ocean ridge basalt (MORB)–ocean island basalt (OIB) mantle array and compared with a restricted (because of a lack of good Th data) range of Karoo and Ferrar dolerites. The majority of the Underberg dykes plot toward the low-Ti field of the Vestfjella lavas. Four samples (SA.11.1, SA.13.1, SA.19.1, SA.20.1) plot within the MORB–OIB array, which are the same four samples with no marked Nb–Ta anomaly (Fig. 7). The remaining samples trend toward higher Th/Yb values, indicating an increased contribution from continental crust and/or partial melts of subduction-modified lithosphere. Three samples (SA.3.1, SA.5.1, SA.6.1) plot toward even higher Th/Yb values, and have amongst the highest SiO2 contents and are isotopically ‘Ferrar-like’. They plot close to the Ferrar field and also the field of average global subducting sediment (GLOSS).

Fig. 10.

Variations in Th/Yb vs Nb/Yb showing the composition of basic dykes from KwaZulu-Natal relative to the MORB–OIB array (Pearce & Peate, 1995). The DML fields are from the Ahlmannryggen (Riley et al., 2005) and the CT1-3 fields are from Vestfjella (Luttinen & Furnes, 2000). Average Ferrar is from Molzahn et al. (1996) and GLOSS is average global subducting sediment from Plank & Langmuir (1998).

Fig. 10.

Variations in Th/Yb vs Nb/Yb showing the composition of basic dykes from KwaZulu-Natal relative to the MORB–OIB array (Pearce & Peate, 1995). The DML fields are from the Ahlmannryggen (Riley et al., 2005) and the CT1-3 fields are from Vestfjella (Luttinen & Furnes, 2000). Average Ferrar is from Molzahn et al. (1996) and GLOSS is average global subducting sediment from Plank & Langmuir (1998).

Therefore, central to the discussion regarding the petrogenesis of the Underberg dyke suite is resolving the contributions from the continental crust and a lithospheric mantle source enriched by subduction-derived fluids.

The Underberg dykes display significant variations in both 87Sr/86Sr and εNd (at 180 Ma). 87Sr/86Sr varies from 0·7044 to 0·7090, whereas εNdi varies from −3·8 to 1·1 (Fig. 11). The two samples with positive εNdi values (SA.11.1 and SA.13.1) also have the least radiogenic initial 87Sr/86Sr values (0·7045) and plot within the OIB array (Fig. 10). The two other samples which plot in the OIB array (Fig. 10) have very similar 87Sr/86Sr values (0·7044–0·7046), but have marginally negative εNdi values (−0·7 to −0·8). Rocks with positive εNd values are rare in the Karoo volcanic province and are absent from the Ferrar magmatic province. Dykes of the Rooi Rand (Duncan et al., 1990), central Lebombo (Sweeney et al., 1994), Falkland Islands (east–west trending; Mitchell et al., 1999), Ahlmannryggen, Dronning Maud Land (Riley et al., 2005) and rare rocks from Vestfjella (Luttinen & Furnes, 2000) and Kirwanveggen (Harris et al., 1990) also have positive εNd, with the Ahlmannryggen Group 3 dykes (Riley et al., 2005) being the most depleted (MORB-like with εNdi ∼ +9) in the entire Karoo volcanic province.

Fig. 11.

Initial εNd and 87Sr/86Sr for KwaZulu-Natal dykes relative to fields from elsewhere in the Karoo and Ferrar magmatic provinces. Data sources: Duncan et al. (1990); Harris et al. (1990); Hergt et al. (1991); Sweeney et al. (1994); Fleming et al. (1997); Harmer et al. (1998); Antonini et al. (1999); Mitchell et al. (1999); Elburg & Goldberg (2000); Luttinen & Furnes (2000); Riley et al. (2005). ODS, Okavango dyke swarm; P27-AVL, depleted end-member from Luttinen & Furnes (2000); DML-1, 2, 3, 4, Dronning Maud Land geochemical groups 1–4; F.I., Falkland Islands. Two AFC curves are plotted; all use the same mantle-derived basalt end-member (Underberg dykes SA.11.1/SA.13.1; 87Sr/86Sr = 0·7045, εNd = 1·0, Sr 330 ppm, Nd 15 ppm) and two different crustal end-members (Namaqua–Natal granite: 87Sr/86Sr = 0·7618, εNd = −4·3, Sr 161 ppm, Nd 73 ppm; Ecca Group hornfels: 87Sr/86Sr = 0·710, εNd = −4·4, Sr 279 ppm, Nd 80 ppm). The third model curve is derived using the EC-RAFC model of Spera & Bohrson (2004) using the Ecca Group hornfels as the crustal end-member (Table 4).

Fig. 11.

Initial εNd and 87Sr/86Sr for KwaZulu-Natal dykes relative to fields from elsewhere in the Karoo and Ferrar magmatic provinces. Data sources: Duncan et al. (1990); Harris et al. (1990); Hergt et al. (1991); Sweeney et al. (1994); Fleming et al. (1997); Harmer et al. (1998); Antonini et al. (1999); Mitchell et al. (1999); Elburg & Goldberg (2000); Luttinen & Furnes (2000); Riley et al. (2005). ODS, Okavango dyke swarm; P27-AVL, depleted end-member from Luttinen & Furnes (2000); DML-1, 2, 3, 4, Dronning Maud Land geochemical groups 1–4; F.I., Falkland Islands. Two AFC curves are plotted; all use the same mantle-derived basalt end-member (Underberg dykes SA.11.1/SA.13.1; 87Sr/86Sr = 0·7045, εNd = 1·0, Sr 330 ppm, Nd 15 ppm) and two different crustal end-members (Namaqua–Natal granite: 87Sr/86Sr = 0·7618, εNd = −4·3, Sr 161 ppm, Nd 73 ppm; Ecca Group hornfels: 87Sr/86Sr = 0·710, εNd = −4·4, Sr 279 ppm, Nd 80 ppm). The third model curve is derived using the EC-RAFC model of Spera & Bohrson (2004) using the Ecca Group hornfels as the crustal end-member (Table 4).

DISCUSSION

The key questions concerning the petrogenesis of almost all continental flood basalt (CFB) magma types are centred on the relative contributions from sub-lithospheric mantle sources (mantle plume, ambient asthenosphere), lithospheric mantle and continental crust. Low-Ti–Zr tholeiites are the predominant rock type throughout the Karoo volcanic province (e.g. Sweeney et al., 1994; Marsh et al., 1997). These are isotopically and elementally distinct from oceanic basalt compositions, which has led many workers to highlight the important role of the subcontinental lithospheric mantle (SCLM) in Karoo magma petrogenesis (e.g. Hawkesworth et al., 1984, 1999; Ellam & Cox, 1991; Saunders et al., 1992; Sweeney et al., 1994).

The Ferrar magmatic province is geochemically distinct (high SiO2, high 87Sr/86Sr, low εNd) from the Karoo volcanic province, which has led to the interpretation that the Ferrar magmas either were extensively contaminated by the continental crust (Faure et al., 1982; Antonini et al., 1999) or were derived from an enriched lithospheric mantle source (Kyle, 1980; Hergt, 2000), where the enrichment was related to earlier subduction along the Gondwana margin. Although the Karoo and Ferrar magmatic provinces are broadly contemporaneous (Pálfy & Smith, 2000), they are generally regarded as being distinct provinces derived from separate magma sources. However, Elliot & Fleming (2000) have identified Ferrar-like lavas (Golden Gate) in the centre of the Karoo volcanic province, which led to the inevitable conclusion that the two provinces may overlap.

The multi-element patterns in Fig. 9 include four samples with relatively flat trends (dashed lines) compared with the remaining dykes, which are characterized by pronounced negative anomalies in Nb, Ta, P and Ti, typical of arc-related basalts. Puffer (2001) noted that some Karoo basalts (and other continental flood basalts) have arc-like trace element abundances, which can be attributed to the melting of pre-existing subduction-modified mantle.

Analysis of the geochemical and isotopic data indicates that the petrogenetic issues central to understanding the Underberg dykes are the role of crustal contamination, the modification of the lithospheric mantle by subduction-derived fluids and links to the Ferrar magmatic province.

Role of crustal contamination

Interaction between an ascending mafic magma and the surrounding continental crust is inevitable at some point prior to eruption or intrusion, although in some cases the chemical changes to the magma may be insignificant. Any attempts to model the effects of crustal contamination have to consider the varied composition of the local crust and the composition of the uncontaminated parent magma.

Potential proxies for the upper crust in the KwaZulu-Natal Province include the granitic basement of the regionally extensive Mesoproterozoic Namaqua–Natal Belt or hornfels of the Ecca Group. Granitic basement of the Namaqua–Natal Belt has been sampled from deep boreholes (2·5 km). The granitic basement has negative εNd values (−4·4) and strongly radiogenic 87Sr/86Sr (0·7618) at 180 Ma (Eglington & Armstrong, 2003), and Ecca Group hornfels from the Insizwa intrusion has similar εNd values (−4·3) and 87Sr/86Sr values of 0·710 at 180 Ma (Lightfoot & Naldrett, 1984).

Potential primary magma compositions could include the most isotopically depleted rocks of the Underberg suite (e.g. SA.13.1; Table 2), which are akin to the Rooi Rand dykes of the central Lebombo (Duncan et al., 1990), considered to be amongst the most depleted rocks in the Karoo of South Africa. The most depleted rocks in the entire Karoo province are from the Dronning Maud Land region of Antarctica (Riley et al., 2005). They have εNd values of +9, 87Sr/86Sr values close to 0·7035, and could also form a potential primary composition.

Assimilation with fractional crystallization (AFC)

There is, in part, a weak correlation between 87Sr/86Sri and MgO (Fig. 6), suggesting that combined assimilation and fractional crystallization (AFC) could have affected some of the Underberg dykes. However, much of the variation in 87Sr/86Sr (∼0·7045–0·7075) occurs at fairly uniform MgO (∼6–6·6 wt %; Fig. 6), indicating that AFC was not the primary process ressponsible for the geochemical variation in the Underberg dykes; however, the remainder of the dykes do show co-variation in MgO and 87Sr/86Sr (Fig. 6), which could be accounted for by AFC processes. AFC was modelled for the Underberg dykes using the energy-constrained recharge–assimilation–fractional crystallization (EC-RAFC) model of Spera & Bohrson (2004), as well as the AFC equations of De Paolo (1981). EC-RAFC differs from standard AFC models in that it tracks the isotopic and trace element composition of the melt, cumulate, country rock partial melts and enclaves during simultaneous recharge, assimilation and fractional crystallization (Fowler et al., 2004).

The depleted composition from Dronning Maud Land (Riley et al., 2005) is an unsuitable end-member for AFC models of the Underberg dyke suite, given its very high εNd value (+9). However, the most depleted rocks of the Underberg suite have εNdi values of +1 and 87Sr/86Sri values of ∼0·7045, and provide a more feasible end-member for the remainder of the Underberg suite; this is akin to the composition of the Rooi Rand dykes.

Using both Namaqua–Natal Belt granitoid and the Ecca Group hornfels as potential crustal contaminants, AFC processes were modelled using an Underberg depleted composition as the magma end-member (Fig. 11). Employing the AFC model of De Paolo (1981), the Namaqua–Natal granitoid is an unsuitable contaminant composition (Fig. 11); however, the Ecca Group hornfels provides a more suitable contaminant composition to fit the Underberg dyke suite. Using the geologically reasonable parameters set out in Table 3, several of the Underberg dykes could reasonably be interpreted as the products of AFC involving a hornfels contaminant, although the levels of contamination using the De Paolo model are probably too high. Employing the EC-RAFC model of Spera & Bohrson (2004), and using the Ecca Group hornfels as a contaminant composition, generates an appropriate trend for the Underberg dyke suite with geologically reasonable contamination values. The EC-RAFC model was run with an initial magma liquidus temperature estimate of 1210°C and a temperature interval of ∼7·5°C (full details are given in Table 4). The samples with the most negative εNd values (<−3) are not well represented given an equilibration temperature of ∼1000°C. However, in general terms, an AFC model involving the most depleted Underberg composition and a local contaminant could generate some of the variation observed in the Underberg suite.

Table 3:

EC-AFC parameters

Thermal parameters   
Magma liquidus temperature 1210°C  
Magma initial temperature 1210°C  
Assimilant liquidus temperature 1100°C  
Assimilant initial temperature 660°C  
Solidus temperature 950°C  
Isobaric specific heat of magma (J/kg K) 1495  
Fusion enthalpy (J/kg) 354000  
Isobaric specific heat of assimilant (J/kg K) 1400  
Crystallization enthalpy of recharge magma 396000  
Isobaric specific heat of recharge magma (J/kg K) 1500  
Compositional parameters   
Element Sr Nd 
Magma concentration 338 15 
Bulk D0 0·8 0·1 
Enthalpy 
Assimilant concentration 279 80 
Bulk D0 0·4 0·5 
Enthalpy 
Isotope 87Sr/86Sr εNd 
Ratio magma 0·7045 
Ratio assimilant 0·71 −4 
Thermal parameters   
Magma liquidus temperature 1210°C  
Magma initial temperature 1210°C  
Assimilant liquidus temperature 1100°C  
Assimilant initial temperature 660°C  
Solidus temperature 950°C  
Isobaric specific heat of magma (J/kg K) 1495  
Fusion enthalpy (J/kg) 354000  
Isobaric specific heat of assimilant (J/kg K) 1400  
Crystallization enthalpy of recharge magma 396000  
Isobaric specific heat of recharge magma (J/kg K) 1500  
Compositional parameters   
Element Sr Nd 
Magma concentration 338 15 
Bulk D0 0·8 0·1 
Enthalpy 
Assimilant concentration 279 80 
Bulk D0 0·4 0·5 
Enthalpy 
Isotope 87Sr/86Sr εNd 
Ratio magma 0·7045 
Ratio assimilant 0·71 −4 
Table 4:

Summary of AMS data

Sample
 
n
 
Km
 
L
 
F
 
H
 
μ
 
kmax
 
kint
 
kmin
 
Strike/dip
 
Width (m)
 
SA.1.2 14647 2·73 1·29 4·02 64·7 111/62 301/29 209/04 218/75 15 
SA.1.3 23793 2·83 3·23 6·07 41·2 021/80 136/04 226/09 218/75 15 
SA.2.2 14622 0·3 0·55 0·86 28·9 335/05 239/47 070/42 050/86 
SA.2.3 14037 0·25 1·76 2·01 8·1 132/23 041/02 306/67 050/86 
SA.8.2 1433 0·07 0·38 0·46 10·9 247/11 153/17 010/68 206/80 3·5 
SA.8.3 10 8283 0·69 0·24 0·93 71 063/71 250/18 160/02 206/80 3·5 
SA.14.2 10 12726 0·36 1·68 2·04 12 183/16 289/43 77/41 055/90 10 
SA.14.3 10578 1·17 0·87 2·04 53·3 358/25 267/02 172/64 055/90 10 
SA.17.2 10 8666 2·35 0·35 2·70 6·63 289/01 021/52 198/37 050/90 10 
SA.18.2 20107 2·56 0·19 2·76 13·31 325/01 231/76 055/13 224/88 10 
SA.18.3 12 21475 0·64 0·41 1·05 57·5 285/20 024/21 156/59 224/88 10 
Sample
 
n
 
Km
 
L
 
F
 
H
 
μ
 
kmax
 
kint
 
kmin
 
Strike/dip
 
Width (m)
 
SA.1.2 14647 2·73 1·29 4·02 64·7 111/62 301/29 209/04 218/75 15 
SA.1.3 23793 2·83 3·23 6·07 41·2 021/80 136/04 226/09 218/75 15 
SA.2.2 14622 0·3 0·55 0·86 28·9 335/05 239/47 070/42 050/86 
SA.2.3 14037 0·25 1·76 2·01 8·1 132/23 041/02 306/67 050/86 
SA.8.2 1433 0·07 0·38 0·46 10·9 247/11 153/17 010/68 206/80 3·5 
SA.8.3 10 8283 0·69 0·24 0·93 71 063/71 250/18 160/02 206/80 3·5 
SA.14.2 10 12726 0·36 1·68 2·04 12 183/16 289/43 77/41 055/90 10 
SA.14.3 10578 1·17 0·87 2·04 53·3 358/25 267/02 172/64 055/90 10 
SA.17.2 10 8666 2·35 0·35 2·70 6·63 289/01 021/52 198/37 050/90 10 
SA.18.2 20107 2·56 0·19 2·76 13·31 325/01 231/76 055/13 224/88 10 
SA.18.3 12 21475 0·64 0·41 1·05 57·5 285/20 024/21 156/59 224/88 10 

n, number of samples measured, Km, mean susceptibility, L = (kmaxkmin)/kmean; F = (kintkmin)/kmean; H = (L + F); m, magnetic fabric shape (oblate, 0–25; triaxial, 25–65; prolate, 65–90).

Lithospheric mantle enrichment

Mantle metasomatism is believed to be the key process responsible for the enrichment of the lithospheric mantle (e.g. Menzies & Hawkesworth, 1987). The lithospheric mantle beneath the Archaean craton of southern Africa has been extensively modally metasomatized, evidenced from a detailed study of peridotite xenoliths (Erlank et al., 1987).

A key process, which has been suggested in the petrogenesis of many CFB provinces, is the contamination of ‘primary’ basaltic magmas with partial melts of enriched lithospheric mantle (e.g. Ellam & Cox, 1991; Luttinen & Furnes, 2000), with contamination taking place before the magmas reach crustal level. As discussed above, the trace element patterns of many of the Underberg dykes (and other Karoo rocks) are characterized by negative anomalies in the HFSE, typical of arc-related basalts. As there was no active continental margin at the time of Karoo magmatism, the arc-like signature must be a remnant of pre-existing subduction. To categorize the amount of subduction-derived fluid added to the mantle, as well as the degree of partial melting, it is helpful to examine incompatible trace element ratios, such as La/Yb and Ba/Nb (Guo et al., 2005). In addition to being reliable indicators of partial melting and subduction fluid addition, the ratios La/Yb and Ba/Nb are not affected by small amounts of fractional crystallization of olivine and clinopyroxene. Guo et al. (2005) developed a mixing and partial melting model for these trace elements to simulate the petrogenesis of potassic magmas from SE Tibet. The model assumes that the magmas were generated in two stages: (1) mixing of depleted mantle and subduction-derived fluid; (2) partial melting of the resultant enriched mantle. The starting composition is taken as N-MORB source mantle, which has trace element abundances equivalent to 0·1 times N-MORB (Sun & McDonough, 1989), as MORB magmas are ∼10% partial melts of N-MORB source mantle. The composition of the subduction-derived fluid is less straightforward, as the abundances of La, Yb, Ba and Nb vary significantly (e.g. Tatsumi & Hanyu, 2003); therefore Guo et al. (2005) used two different fluid compositions in their models, one with high abundances (Fluid A), the other with low abundances (Fluid B) (Fig. 12). The mixing model between depleted mantle and the two fluid compositions are shown in Fig. 12 for non-modal batch partial melting models and the Underberg dykes are plotted. The Underberg dykes have low values of both Ba/Nb and La/Yb and plot close to the origin of the mixing curves of Guo et al. (2005). The mixing model using the Fluid A composition (high concentrations of La, Yb, Nb, Ba) indicates that the Underberg dykes have a very low content of the subduction-derived fluid, typically <0·2% (Fig. 12a). The mixing model using the Fluid B composition (low concentrations of La, Yb, Nb, Ba) shows that the Underberg dykes also have a relatively small contribution from the subduction-derived fluid, typically <10% (Fig. 12b), although clearly much greater than the Fluid A model. The non-modal partial melting model indicates a degree of mantle partial melting of ∼15%. The samples that show the greatest contribution from a subduction-derived fluid are those with Ba/Nb values >60 and include the samples SA.3.1, SA.5.1 and SA.12.1, which also have amongst the highest 87Sr/86Sri values (0·7075–0·7100) and are ‘Ferrar-like’ in composition.

Fig. 12.

Variation in La/Yb vs Ba/Nb. The numbers (%) along the dotted lines represent the degree of partial melting. The numbers (%) along the continuous lines (in italics) are the proportion of the subduction-derived fluid in the mantle source region. (a) Non-modal batch partial melting model calculated by Guo et al. (2004) for fluid composition A (Ba 2672 ppm, Nb 0 ppm, La 99 ppm, Yb 0·3 ppm) and (b) non-modal batch partial melting for fluid B (Ba 52 ppm, Nb 0 ppm, La 1·6 ppm, Yb 0 ppm).

Fig. 12.

Variation in La/Yb vs Ba/Nb. The numbers (%) along the dotted lines represent the degree of partial melting. The numbers (%) along the continuous lines (in italics) are the proportion of the subduction-derived fluid in the mantle source region. (a) Non-modal batch partial melting model calculated by Guo et al. (2004) for fluid composition A (Ba 2672 ppm, Nb 0 ppm, La 99 ppm, Yb 0·3 ppm) and (b) non-modal batch partial melting for fluid B (Ba 52 ppm, Nb 0 ppm, La 1·6 ppm, Yb 0 ppm).

Links to Ferrar magmatism

Karoo and Ferrar tholeiites are considered geochemically distinct and geographically separate, with overlap known only in a few areas of pre-break-up Gondwana. Brewer et al. (1992) identified both Karoo- and Ferrar-like rocks in the Theron Mountains of Coats Land, Antarctica (Fig. 1), although they are chronologically distinct (193 Ma for Ferrar; 176 Ma for Karoo). Other workers have also speculated that Ferrar-like magmatic rocks might extend beyond the accepted limits of the Ferrar province (Fig. 1). Elliot & Fleming (2000) noted that the low-Ti, Golden Gate lavas of northern Lesotho (Fig. 1) are geochemically similar to the low-Ti tholeiites of the Ferrar province. The Golden Gate lavas have similar 87Sr/86Sr and εNd isotope ratios to the Ferrar intrusions (Fig. 11), which are distinctive when compared with other Karoo volcanic rocks. Elliot & Fleming (2000) concluded that the Golden Gate lavas were derived from the same source as the Ferrar, and suggested the interfingering of Ferrar-derived lavas with the lower units of the Karoo flood basalt sequence in Lesotho.

A geochemical study of the Mesozoic dolerite dykes of the Falkland Islands by Mitchell et al. (1999) also identified Karoo- and Ferrar-like rock types. An east–west-trending dyke group has compositional similarities (Fig. 11) to the Rooi Rand dyke swarm of the Karoo (Duncan et al., 1990), whereas a north–south-trending dyke group is geochemically similar to Ferrar magmatic rocks (Fig. 11). Mitchell et al. (1999) also noted that rare samples of the north–south-trending suite are geochemically akin to the Kraai River volcanic rocks of southern Lesotho.

Several of the Underberg dykes (SA.3.1, SA.5.1, SA.6.1) have 87Sr/86Sr (0·7090–0·7100) and εNd (−3·8 to −14·5) values close to those of the Ferrar magmas (Fig. 11), although the sample with εNd = −14·5 is more akin to the low-εNd rocks of CT1 (Vestfjella; Luttinen & Furnes, 2000) and the basalts of the southern Lebombo (Sweeney et al., 1994), and may reflect the incorporation of Precambrian LREE-enriched lithospheric material. The similarity to Ferrar rocks is also highlighted in Fig. 10, which shows that these three samples plot close to the Ferrar field and are distinct from the other Underberg dykes. A similar pattern is observed in Fig. 13, where Nb/Nb* is plotted against 87Sr/86Sri. The Underberg dykes are plotted relative to a restricted (because of the absence of published Th data) range of Karoo and Ferrar rock types. The variation in Nb/Nb* relative to 87Sr/86Sri shows a trend towards lower Nb/Nb* values, indicating an increased contribution from the continental crust or melts from subduction-modified lithospheric mantle. The samples with the lowest Nb/Nb* and highest 87Sr/86Sri overlap with the field of Ferrar rock types.

Fig. 13.

Nb anomaly, Nb/Nb* [= NbN√(ThN × LaN)] vs 87Sr/86Sr. The Nb anomaly can be used to test the role of sediment contamination in mantle-derived magmas. The DML Groups 2 and 3 field are from Riley et al. (2005). The CT1, 2, 4 fields are from the Karoo province in Vestfjella (Luttinen & Furnes, 2000). The Ferrar field is from Molzahn et al. (1996). GLOSS is average global subducting sediment (Plank & Langmuir, 1998); 87Sr/86Sr = 0·7173, Sr 327 ppm, Nb/Nb* = 0·22.

Fig. 13.

Nb anomaly, Nb/Nb* [= NbN√(ThN × LaN)] vs 87Sr/86Sr. The Nb anomaly can be used to test the role of sediment contamination in mantle-derived magmas. The DML Groups 2 and 3 field are from Riley et al. (2005). The CT1, 2, 4 fields are from the Karoo province in Vestfjella (Luttinen & Furnes, 2000). The Ferrar field is from Molzahn et al. (1996). GLOSS is average global subducting sediment (Plank & Langmuir, 1998); 87Sr/86Sr = 0·7173, Sr 327 ppm, Nb/Nb* = 0·22.

The presence of Ferrar-like rocks in the Underberg region of southern KwaZulu-Natal, coupled with the ‘Ferrar-like’ Golden Gate lavas (Elliot & Fleming, 2000), suggests that there is a clear Ferrar component within the Karoo volcanic province. The composition of lava sequences from Moshesh's Ford and Kraai River, as well as several of the dykes from the Underberg suite, are intermediate between a Rooi Rand-like composition and a Ferrar-like composition, which prompts the suggestion that some of the variability could be explained by mixing of Ferrar and Karoo magma compositions.

To test the possibility of Ferrar-sourced magmas being transported into the Karoo province, samples were selected for AMS analysis to determine the magma flow direction

MAGMA FLOW

Anisotropy of magnetic susceptibility (AMS) data

Background

Anisotropy of magnetic susceptibility (AMS) measurements have been shown to be a very sensitive technique for determining the flow direction of mafic magmas (e.g. Knight & Walker, 1988; Ernst & Baragar, 1992; Cañón-Tapia et al., 1996; Liss et al., 2002). With this aim, we collected oriented block samples from the margins of well-exposed dykes where the dyke–wall-rock contact was observed and surface weathering minimal. Of the dykes sampled for geochemistry only six possessed two exposed margins. Block samples were oriented in the field using a magnetic compass, and later drilled in the laboratory. The retrieved cores were measured on an AGICO KLY3 Kappabridge at the School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences (University of Birmingham) to determine the three principal axes of magnetic susceptibility kmax, kint, kmin. These principal axes define an ellipsoid of magnetic susceptibility, the shape of which is described by the magnetic lineation [L = (kmaxkmin)/kmean] and foliation [F = (kintkmin)/kmean]. The shape of the ellipsoid is indicated by the angle μ = tan−1L/F (the angle from the F axis to a point on a plot of L vs F, ranging from 0° for purely oblate to 90° for purely prolate), whereas the strength of the anisotropy is indicated by the total anisotropy (H = L + F). AMS data together with dyke orientation and width data are presented in Table 4.

AMS fabrics

The AMS fabrics predominantly fall into two distinct types, as follows.

(1) Type A fabrics are characterized by kmin axes clustering approximately normal to the dyke wall, and kmax and kint forming a magnetic foliation sub-parallel to the intrusion plane (e.g. Fig. 14, sample SA.1.3). Such ‘normal’ AMS fabrics are interpreted to be the product of magma flow, with kmax parallel to flow (e.g. Knight & Walker, 1988; Ernst & Baragar, 1992; Rochette et al., 1992). Normal magnetic fabrics account for 55% of the AMS fabrics measured in this study.

Fig. 14.

Anisotropy of magnetic susceptibility results from six dykes within the KwaZulu-Natal dyke suite, with mean susceptibility axes (open symbols) and 95% confidence ellipses. Great circles represent dyke orientation.

Fig. 14.

Anisotropy of magnetic susceptibility results from six dykes within the KwaZulu-Natal dyke suite, with mean susceptibility axes (open symbols) and 95% confidence ellipses. Great circles represent dyke orientation.

Type B fabrics are characterized by a cluster of kint axes plotting approximately normal to the intrusion plane (e.g. Fig. 14, sample SA.14.3). Such ‘intermediate fabrics’ (Rochette et al., 1999) have been variously related to the mixing of differing magnetite grain sizes (Rochette et al., 1992), magmatic shear and associated rotation of ellipsoidal magnetite grains (Dragoni et al., 1997), or the vertical compaction of a static magma column (Park et al., 1988).

In addition to the normal and intermediate fabrics, two samples (SA.8.2 and SA.8.3) display abnormal AMS fabrics that are characterized by strongly prolate or oblate fabrics, where only one principal axis shows a good clustering of data, with the other two axes being widely distributed. These fabrics are denoted type C in Fig. 14 (samples SA.8.2 and SA.8.3).

Discussion and interpretation of AMS fabrics within the Underberg dyke suite

Interpretation of magma flow direction from the AMS fabrics obtained from the Underberg dykes is complicated by the presence of both normal and intermediate magnetic fabrics within the same dyke. However, a similar distribution of normal and intermediate fabrics was encountered in dykes within the Koolau complex, Hawaii (Knight & Walker, 1988), where both normal and intermediate fabrics displayed similarly oriented kmax axes, the orientations of which were sub-parallel to observed macroscopic magma flow indicators along the dyke margins. Knight & Walker (1988) concluded that the orientation of kmax in most of the dykes approximated the magma flow direction. This combination of AMS and field data indicates that intermediate fabrics can represent a simple switch between the kint and kmin axes, whereas kmax (the magnetic lineation) remains parallel to magma flow, as predicted by numerical modelling of sheared ellipsoidal grains (Dragoni et al., 1997) or some models for the proportional mixing of single-domain and multi-domain magnetite grains (Rochette et al., 1992).

Knight & Walker (1988) also identified the presence of an obliquity of the magnetic lineation in each margin of a dyke (imbricate fabric) that was symmetrical about the centre of the intrusion plane and indicated the absolute magma flow direction. Other workers have successfully employed symmetrical imbricate AMS fabrics to determine an absolute flow direction in dykes, e.g. symmetric magnetic lineations (Tauxe et al., 1998; Callot et al., 2001) and symmetric magnetic foliation and lineation (Herrero-Bervera et al., 2001).

In the case of the Underberg dyke suite, we consider that five of the six dykes analysed provide evidence for magma flow direction, with two indicating absolute (known direction) magma flow directions. Figure 15a and b presents paired AMS fabrics from opposite margins of two dykes (SA.2 and SA.18) where both dykes show normal and intermediate fabrics in opposite margins. We have dismissed vertical compaction of a static magma column as a cause for the intermediate fabrics, as we would expect intermediate fabrics to have formed at both margins. As the kmax axes for both normal and intermediate fabrics are sub-parallel, we have assumed that the intermediate fabrics represent a switching of kmin and kint, as a result of either magma-related shear (Dragoni et al., 1997) or the mixing of single-domain and multi-domain magnetite grains (Rochette et al., 1992, fig. 8b). In both dykes, the magnetic lineations (kmax) are oblique to their respective margins and are symmetrical about the centre line of the dyke. Along the southwestern margins of the dykes kmax lies clockwise oblique to the dyke wall, whereas a counter-clockwise obliquity is found along the NE margins. In addition, the magnetic foliation of normal AMS fabrics also forms a clockwise imbrication angle with respect to the southwestern dyke margin. This symmetrical geometry combined with sub-horizontal kmax suggests that magma flowed laterally from the SE to NW.

Fig. 15.

(a–e) Equal area stereograms displaying the mean susceptibility axes kmax, kint, kmin, plus 95% confidence ellipses for samples from the KwaZulu-Natal dyke suite. Intermediate fabrics are interpreted to be the product of a switching of kint and kmin axes, thus the inferred petrological foliation is interpreted as containing kmax and kmin. Block diagrams in (a–e) summarize the relationship of the inferred imbricate petrological foliation and lineation to dyke margins. Inferred petrological lineation is considered parallel to kmax, and with the petrological foliation is equivalent to the magnetic foliation in normal fabrics and the plane containing kmax and kmin in intermediate fabrics (see discussion in text).

Fig. 15.

(a–e) Equal area stereograms displaying the mean susceptibility axes kmax, kint, kmin, plus 95% confidence ellipses for samples from the KwaZulu-Natal dyke suite. Intermediate fabrics are interpreted to be the product of a switching of kint and kmin axes, thus the inferred petrological foliation is interpreted as containing kmax and kmin. Block diagrams in (a–e) summarize the relationship of the inferred imbricate petrological foliation and lineation to dyke margins. Inferred petrological lineation is considered parallel to kmax, and with the petrological foliation is equivalent to the magnetic foliation in normal fabrics and the plane containing kmax and kmin in intermediate fabrics (see discussion in text).

Dyke SA.17, for which only one sample from the NE margin returned useable cores, possesses a highly prolate fabric (μ = 82) with a horizontal kmax lying counter-clockwise oblique to the dyke margin (Fig. 15c). This sense of imbrication is consistent with that observed in NE margins of dykes SA.2 and SA.18, and in the absence of contrary data from the SW dyke margin, we interpret the AMS fabric of SA.17 also to be the result of lateral magma flow from the SE to NW.

Dyke SA.14 again displays both normal and intermediate fabrics. Along its NE margin a strongly oblate (μ = 12) normal fabric was measured that possesses a sub-horizontal kmax, whereas a triaxial (μ = 53) intermediate fabric with sub-horizontal kmax was measured along the SE margin (Fig. 15d). Despite both AMS fabrics displaying consistent shallowly plunging kmax axes, unlike dykes SA.2 and SA.18 there is no symmetry of the magnetic lineation across the dyke, and thus the AMS results are difficult to interpret in terms of absolute magma flow direction. However, the fabrics are potentially explained by the theoretical model of Dragoni et al. (1997), which, as well as predicting the periodic switch of kint and kmin to form intermediate fabrics, suggests that the magnetic lineation (kmax) oscillates in a plane parallel to the flow direction and perpendicular to the intrusion plane (±45°) as a function of strain (magma flow). Thus the fabrics recognized in SA.14 are theoretically possible. Perhaps the most significant aspect of the Dragoni et al. (1997) model in this instance is that kmax remains parallel to the magma flow direction, even when intermediate fabrics form; therefore, the AMS fabrics from SA.14 may be indicative of lateral magma flow, although the absolute direction cannot be determined. An interpretation of lateral magma flow is consistent with the presence of scarce sub-horizontally stretched amygdales within the dyke.

Dyke SA.1 possesses normal magnetic fabrics at both margins (Fig. 15e), characterized by steeply dipping magnetic foliations, sub-parallel to the strike of the intrusion plane and sub-vertical kmax. However, the obliquity of the magnetic foliation is not symmetrical about the dyke centre, thus absolute magma flow determination is not possible. The presence of normal fabrics with sub-vertical kmax axes strongly suggests vertical magma flow.

Samples from dyke SA.8 possess a low total anisotropy (H = 0·93–0·46) and show a correspondingly wider spread of data (Fig. 14). The AMS fabrics are also diverse. The SW margin displays a prolate fabric with kmax being sub-vertical and lying close to the intrusion plane, with kint and kmin forming an overlapping distribution perpendicular to kmax. The NE margin reveals an oblate fabric with kmin occupying a sub-vertical position within the intrusion plane, and kmax and kint forming a scattered distribution perpendicular to kmin.

The presence of diverse AMS fabrics within the sampled dykes of the Underberg dyke suite complicates interpretations of relative and/or absolute magma flow. However, we have interpreted the intermediate AMS fabrics potentially to be a product of mixed components of multi-domain and single-domain magnetite, or shearing of elliptical magnetite grains by flowing magma, with both explanations allowing the switching of kmin and kint, whereas kmax remains parallel to the magma flow direction. Using this interpretation we conclude that four of the six dykes analysed show evidence for lateral magma flow, with three dykes suggesting absolute magma flow from the SE to NW, whereas one dyke shows evidence of subvertical magma flow.

SUMMARY

Geochemical evidence from this study, and that of Elliot & Fleming (2000), indicates the extension of Ferrar-like intrusions and lavas into the Karoo volcanic province. The Golden Gate lavas of northern Lesotho and at least three of the Underberg dykes have isotopic and trace element characteristics typical of Ferrar lavas and intrusions (e.g. Hergt, 2000). Several other dykes from the KwaZulu-Natal have geochemical characteristics that suggest they may contain a Ferrar component (Fig. 11).

The occurrence of Ferrar-sourced intrusive rocks has also been reported from the Falkland Islands (Mitchell et al., 1999) and the Theron Mountains (Brewer et al., 1992), where they occur in close association with Karoo-like igneous rocks. The geographical locations of these areas, combined with the Underberg dykes of southern KwaZulu-Natal and the Lesotho Highlands, would all have been in close proximity in Gondwana reconstructions (Fig. 1).

The AMS fabrics of the Underberg dykes are diverse and interpretations are not straightforward. Interpretation of intermediate fabrics combined with normal fabrics suggests that four of the six analysed dykes show evidence for lateral flow, and three dykes indicate that flow was directed from the SE toward the NW. This direction is consistent in Gondwana reconstructions with lateral magma flow from the Ferrar source region (Fig. 1). However, stratigraphical studies (Haycock et al., 1997) suggest that the dykes must have been emplaced at shallow levels, a consideration that does not prohibit lateral magma flow, as examples of lateral magma flow in shallow (<4 km) dykes have been described (Callot et al., 2001), but does question how far magma can flow laterally from its source at such shallow depths. The presence of dykes displaying evidence for subvertical magma flow might suggest that that the Underberg dyke suite may be related to a closer magma source/s, with the magma flow trajectory forming a fan-like pattern with sub-horizontal flow further away from the source, and the trajectory steepening and converging towards the source in a similar manner to the inferred magma flow trajectories for the Rio Ceará–Mirim dykes of NE Brazil (Archanjo et al., 2000). Unfortunately, our study did not allow for an along-strike analysis of magma flow trajectories within the Underberg dykes, which would be necessary to determine if the evidence for horizontal flow is regional or related to more local magma centres to the SE.

CONCLUSIONS

(1) The mafic dykes near Underberg (southern KwaZulu-Natal) trend approximately NW–SE and extend SE from the Karoo central area of Lesotho toward the coast. The dyke suite was intruded at ∼178 Ma (176·4 ± 1·2 to 181·7 ± 0·7 Ma) and is coincident in age with the major Okavango dyke swarm of southern Botswana.

(2) The dykes are all low-TiO2–Zr tholeiites with TiO2 <1·5 wt %, Zr <150 ppm and Ti/Y <310, but display a broad Nd–Sr isotopic range; they vary from ‘depleted’ Rooi Rand-like compositions (87Sr/86Sr ∼0·7045, εNd ∼1) to ‘enriched’ Ferrar-like compositions (87Sr/86Sr ∼0·710, εNd ∼ −9).

(3) Analysis of AFC (and EC-RAFC) models indicates that some of the variation seen in the Underberg dyke suite and also the lava units of Moshesh's Ford and Kraai River could be the result of combined assimilation and fractional crystallization from a Rooi Rand-like parent magma and a local upper crust contaminant (Ecca Group hornfels). However, those samples with more negative εNd and more radiogenic 87Sr/86Sr (i.e. more ‘Ferrar-like’) are not well represented using AFC models.

(4) To assess the role of lithospheric mantle enrichment in the petrogenesis of the Underberg dykes, we have used the element ratios Ba/Nb and La/Yb. Two models are examined here, which use two different fluid compositions; one with high concentrations and the other with low. Even using a model subduction-derived fluid with low concentrations of Ba, Nb, La and Yb, it is clear that the Underberg dykes are not derived from a lithospheric mantle source strongly enriched by a subduction-derived component. The three samples with ‘Ferrar-like’ geochemical characteristics tend to have the highest Ba/Nb values and are, therefore, derived from a source with at least some degree of enrichment, presumably derived from subduction-derived fluids.

(5) At least three of the Underberg dykes are derived from a magma source akin to the source that generated the Ferrar magmatic province. Several of the other dykes, as well as lavas from Kraai River and Moshesh's Ford, are possible Karoo–Ferrar hybrid compositions.

(6) AMS data suggest that four of the six dykes analysed show evidence for lateral magma flow, with three dykes (SA.2, SA.17, SA.18) suggesting an absolute flow direction from the SE to the NW. The three samples lie on, or close to, a putative mixing curve between a Ferrar end-member and a depleted mantle end-member. An absolute flow direction from the SE is in agreement with the geochemistry, which supports a Ferrar magma component in the Underberg dyke suite. However, we cannot determine if lateral magma transport occurred at a regional scale from a distant magma source, or on a more localized scale.

This manuscript has benefited considerably from the thoughtful and thorough reviews of Chris Harris, Janet Hergt, Goonie Marsh and Marjorie Wilson. Graham Pearson (University of Durham) supplied the ICP-MS analyses, Dave Emley (University of Keele) carried out the XRF analyses, and John Huard (Oregon State University) assisted with the 40Ar/39Ar geochronology.

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