Decrypting the crustal evolution of the Mozambique Belt in Malawi
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Global paleogeography exerts a first order control on both the deep and surficial components of the Earth system. Temporal and spatial constraints on the Mozambique Belt of Eastern Africa are needed to understand its crustal evolution and its role in assembly of Gondwana. This thesis provides detailed data on the timing, sources and nature of tectono-thermal events responsible for magmatism in the Mozambique Belt in southern Malawi. An integrated approach of petrography, geochemistry, radiogenic isotopes, and single zircon geochronology has been used to determine spatial and temporal constraints and to better constrain models of the assembly of East and West Gondwana, which occurred along the Mozambique Belt. In particular the thesis attempts to address key unresolved questions about the number and timing of accretionary pulses within the orogen. LA-ICP-MS single zircon U-Pb results show tectono-thermal events in four periods: Mesoproterozoic from 1128 ± 30 Ma to 1033 ± 20 Ma; Neoproterozoic (956 ± 12 Ma – 594 ± 65 Ma); Cambrian (530 ± 3 Ma – 515 ± 12 Ma); and Cretaceous (118 ± 2 Ma). Metamorphism is dated from a charnockitic gneiss that yielded a lower intercept age of 515 ± 18 Ma. The granitoids are intermediate to acidic with relative enrichment in LILEs and depletion in HFSEs with moderately negative anomalies in Th, Nb, P, Zr and Ti. REE spider plots show enrichment in LREEs and depleted HREEs with negative Eu anomalies. The meta-granites are largely metaluminous with a few peraluminous, I-type granites belonging to the calc-alkaline series. Radiogenic isotope data reveals slight differences with older, Mesoproterozoic rocks showing positive ɛNd and ɛHf values signifying derivation from depleted mantle material, whilst the younger rocks display negative epsilon values suggestive of crustal material recycling and mixing for their source and origins. Granitoids of southern Malawi display characteristics consistent with derivation in a continental Andean type arc with some aspects of the chemistry resembling tonalite-trondhjemite-granite (TTG) suites mapped in the Mozambique Belt in Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique, and Antarctica although the data are not sufficiently compelling to assign the Malawi rocks to classic TTGs.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
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Embargo Date: 2018-09-30
Embargo Reason: Thesis restricted in accordance with University regulations. Print and electronic copy restricted until 30th September 2018
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