Granulite xenoliths erupted at Kilbourne Hole maar were recently extracted from the lower crust of southern New Mexico. Garnet- and sillimanite-bearing quartzofeldspathic xenoliths had pelitic protoliths and were probably emplaced in the lower crust by tectonic underplating at a lower Proterozoic subduction zone. Thus the Kilbourne Hole metapelitic xenoliths illustrate the potential role of tectonosedimentary processes at convergent margins in determining the ultimate composition of the crust. Average P-wave velocities for metapelitic xenoliths from Kilbourne Hole are ∼ 7 km/s at 6 kbar, like those of mafic metagabbros and anorthosites. However, in contrast to mafic lithologies, the major element composition of the representative pelitic paragneiss (RPP) described in this paper is relatively siliceous and like that of average upper crust. Except for depletions of U and Cs, the trace element characteristics of the RPP are like those of pelitic sediments and are 3-10 times higher than those typically estimated for the lower crust. The heat production of the RPP is high (1.0 μW/m3) as are those of many granulite- and amphibolite-grade metapelites. In general, portions of the lower crust in which sediments are present may be high in light ion lithophile and rare earth element abundances, heat production, δ18O, and 87Sr 86Sr. Moreover, the high Pb contents and unradiogenic Pb isotope signatures of metapelites provide an important reservoir for unradiogenic Pb in the earth as a whole.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
- Geochemistry and Petrology