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         Prior knowledge: plate tectonic environments; names of rare earth elements; meaning of chondrite.

        Spidergrams are histogram like plots of the abundances of a set of elements in an analyzed sample  relative to their abundance in some standard. One of the earliest spidergrams (Jahn, B-M, Chi-Yu, S., and Rama Murthy, V., 1974. Trace element  geochemistry of Archean volcanic rocks. Geochim. Cosmochim Acta, 38, 611-627) plots the relative abundance of the alkali elements Sr, K, Rb, Ba in various volcanic rocks in comparison to their abundance in oceanic floor rocks (MORB). Unfortunately,  the alkali elements, and also U and Th, are mobile and susceptible to alteration.  Spidergrams therefore now include  the less mobile Rare Earths, Nb (Ta), Zr, Ti, P, and Y, ordered in a manner that reflects their relative compatibility in mantle derived melts, as well as their relative mobility in hydrous phases (spider1 ).  (Elements of the Rare Earth group possess a number of physical and chemical properties that make them especially useful in  geochemical studies of igneous and sedimentary rocks, ocean water/rock ratios, and the weathering of continental rocks.  All the REE are refractory with oxide condensation temperatures similar to Sr, U and Th. They were  not fractionated during the formation of the Earth, and REE patterns are similar to those of chondrites and the  solar photosphere.)  What is important is the variation in the pattern of the relative abundances rather than the abundance values themselves  (spider2 ).

    The MORB normalized patterns of Within Plate basalts  (spiderwp)typically show element enrichment from right  (Yb) to left (Nb-Sr), whereas immature arc basalts ( spiderlkt)  exhibit MORB type patterns but with marked relative alkali enrichment. Mature arcs ( spiderca) display more jagged patterns with typical depletions in Nb-Ta and Zr-Hf and enrichments in P.   Basaltic rocks which have undergonecrustal contamination and continental derived sediments (spidercrustcontam) also tend to show these characteristics, and they commonly show up in continental flood basalts (spiderthomp).

         The element abundance standard used for normalization is commonly that of  chondrite ( spiderchond) or primitive Earth, rather than ocean floor basalt (spiderpearce). The element abundances used in the chondrite bulk earth standard are about 1.5 times those  of chondrite "C1", therby taking into account the volatile loss in the formation of the Earth from material of "C1" composition. The REE abundances used in the  primitive Earth standard (present mantle plus crust) is further enriched 1.5 times relative to their abundance in the chondritic bulk earth standard.


    Pearce, J.A., 1975. Basalt geochemistry used to investigate past tectonic environments on Cyprus. Tectonophysics,25, 41-67
    Pearce, J.A., 1982. Trace element characteristics of lavas from destructive plate boundaries: Thorpe, R.S., ed., Andesites,  John Wiley and Sons, 525-548.  Comment- QE 462.A5
    Pearce, J.A., 1984. Role of the Sub-continental Lithosphere in Magma Genesis at Active Continental Margins p. 230-249  in Hawkesworth, C.J. and Norry, M.J. (Eds), Continental Basalts and Mantle Xenoliths, Shiva Geology Series
    Pearce, J.A., Alabaster, T., Shelton, A.W., 1981. The Oman ophiolite as a Cretaceous arc-basin complex: evidence and  implications. Phil. Trans, R. Soc. Lond. A 300, 299-317.
    Pearce, J.A. Harris, N.B.W., and Tindle, A.G., 1984. Trace element discrimination diagrams for the tectonic interpretation  of granitic rocks: Journal of Petrology, 25, 956-983.
    Pearce, J.A. Lippard, S.J., and Roberts, S., 1984. Characteristics and tectonic significance of supra-subduction zone (SSZ)  ophiolites: In Marginal basin geology; volcanic and associated sedimentary tectonic processes in modern and ancient  marginal basins. Edited by B.P. Kokelaar and M.F. Howells. Geological Society of London, Special publication 16, 77-94.
    Gale, G. H. and Pearce, J. A , 1982. Geochemical patterns in Norwegian greenstones. Can. Jour. Earth Sci., 19, 3, 385-397
    Thirlwall, M.F. & Bluck, B.J. , 1984. Sr-Nd isotope & geochemical evidence that the Ballantrae "ophiolite", SW Scotland,  is polygenetic: p. 215-230 in Gass, I.G., Lippard, S.J., & Shelton, A.W., eds., Ophiolites & Oceanic Lithosphere, Spec. Pub  Geol. Soc. 13.
    Thirlwall, M.F., Graham, A.M , 1984. Evolution of high-Ca, High-Sr C-series basalts from Grenada, Lesser Antilles:the effects  of intra-crustal contamination Jour. Geological Society: 140, p. 427-446.
     Thirlwall, M.F. , 1986. Lead isotope evidence for the nature of the mantle beneath Caledonian Scotland: EPSL, 80,, 55-70.
     Thirlwall, M.F. , 1989. Movement on proposed terrane boundaries in northern Britain: constraints from Ordovician-Devonian  igneous rocks: JGS, 146, 3, 373-376.  Comment- correlation using Sr and Pb; Sr decrease to the SE; rocks south of the SUF have high Pb207/Pb204; "indeed, all  igneous rocks just south of the SUF have incompatible element concentrations difficult to explain on the subduction model  of Thirlwall (1981), and are rather close to the supposed subduction trace at the Iapetus suture.  Most importantly,  igneous rocks just south of the the SUF show consistently higher initial 207Pb/204Pb at constant 206Pb/204Pb than Midland  Valley ORS lavas, implying a source component not seen N of the SUF


Structural Provinces of North America.


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