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Publication Type:

Journal Article


Precambrian ResearchPrecambrian Research, Volume 214, p.227-257 (2012)



Accession Number:



abitibi, abitibi greenstone-belt, Archean, archean ocean chemistry, Banded iron formation, hydrothermal fluids, mid-atlantic ridge, pilbara craton, rare-earth-elements, ree plus y systematics, sulfur isotope evidence, superior-province, trace-element, upper continental-crust, western-australia


This study reports new REE+Y and 3-isotope sulfur data for Archean banded iron formation and volcaniclastic rocks with cherty bed tops in the Neoarchean Abitibi greenstone belt of Canada. The data were analyzed with a view to better constrain Neoarchean ocean chemistry, atmospheric conditions prevalent during weathering and transport, the development of Algoma-type banded iron formation and the overall process of stratigraphic development of greenstone belts. The Abitibi greenstone belt consists of 7 mafic to felsic volcanic cycles, each capped by a sedimentary interface zone consisting of chemical and minor clastic metasediments. We concentrated sampling on the iron formation capping the ca. 2730 Ma Deloro assemblage as it occurs over a wide area (300 km x 600 km) and because there is a substantial depositional gap prior to deposition of the overlying volcanic rocks. Volcaniclastic rocks within the ca. 2710 Ma Tisdale assemblage were also sampled.<br/>Chemical analyses focussed on the SiO2-rich portion of the samples and were conducted by laser ablation ICP-MS. In situ analysis of S isotopes was obtained for pyrite by ion probe. REE data display four types of patterns: (1) hydrothermally influenced marine hydrogenous sediment, (2) contaminated, hydrothermally influenced marine hydrogenous sediment, (3) hydrothermally dominated patterns, and (4) replacement patterns indicating silicification of precursor volcanic units. Contamination and/or the presence of non-chert components were documented with Th. U and Zr content. Non-chert components were defined as: (1) phosphates that led to elevated Th/U, (2) clastic detritus leading to flat shale normalized REE patterns, and (3) volcanic detritus leading to elevated values for Zr. No meaningful difference in REE+Y geochemistry as a function of elevated Th/U was found implying that phosphates have the same REE patterns as the host chert. The cherts within banded iron formation exhibited stratigraphic variation in several localities, progressing from replacement chemistry (flat REE profile) at the base, hydrogenous sediment geochemistry (positive La, Gd, Y/Ho anomalies) in the middle part and hydrothermal patterns (depleted LREE, elevated positive Eu anomalies) in the upper part. The upper parts of some units also display +Ce anomalies possibly reflective of more oxygenated water also supported by S isotope data. A consistent increase in Pr/Vb in the upper parts of units is postulated to reflect shallowing upward of depositional depth to an unknown extent but not above storm wave base. A number of samples with flat REE patterns lacking La and Gd anomalies represent hydrothermal deposition with the largest Eu/Eu* values recorded for Archean iron formation. The main contribution of the Abitibi banded iron formations is that they provide a deeper water perspective on Archean ocean chemistry. The resulting picture is that of slow BIF accumulation, a generally strong hydrothermal input of REE and complex oceanic cycling, possibly involving a chemocline above the sampled water depth.<br/>The new sulfur isotope data show a greater extent of mass independent fractionation than previously recorded for the Neoarchean, with 6,Delta S-33 ranging from -1.4 to +4.2 parts per thousand.. The strongly MIF positive source (Delta S-33=+4 parts per thousand) was apparently similar to Paleoarchean values. (C) 2012 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.


Sp. Iss. SI<br/>014kc<br/>Times Cited:18<br/>Cited References Count:99