Springer Online Journal Archives 1860-2000
Abstract Ten dolerite dikes intruded into Triassic fault troughs in the Piedmont area of North Carolina have been analyzed for the contents of major elements plus selected trace elements. The average composition of the initial magma, as indicated by four chill margins for major elements and three for trace elements, is: SiO2, 48.6%; Al2O3, 16.9%; TiO2, 0.57%; Fe2O3, 3.30%; FeO, 6.72%; MgO, 10.59; CaO, 10.42%; Na2O, 2.03%; K2O, 0.20%; MnO, 0.20%; Rb, 2.6 ppm; Sr, 133 ppm; Zr, 46 ppm; Th, 0.4 ppm; and U, below detection limit of approximately 0.1 ppm. One large dike (BP) exhibits a Palisades-type of differentiation by crystal settling of olivine, and the comparatively thick JY dike shows development of micropegmatite toward the center; the smaller dikes, however, are relatively homogeneous across their width. Study of the relationship between SiO2 content and the ratio FeO+Fe2O3/MgO+ FeO+Fe2O3 indicates that most dikes crystallize under conditions of decreasing oxygen pressure, but the differentiation trend of the JY, RD, and RS dikes indicates either constant or increasing oxygen pressure during their evolution. Statistical comparison of the composition of the initial dolerite magmas with a variety of basalt types around the world suggests that the North Carolina dolerites are far more similar to oceanic or oceanic margin tholeiites than to continental tholeiites. The North Carolina rocks are distinctly different from plateau basalts but are similar to the chill zones of the Precambrian Bushveld and Stillwater lopoliths. The comparatively low contents of Th, U, and Sr, plus the relatively high K/Rb ratio all support the possibility that the magmas for the North Carolina dolerites evolved in a dominantly oceanic environment. It seems distinctly possible that continental-type crust and mantle did not exist in the Appalachian Piedmont area in Triassic time, even after major orogeny and the concurrent formation of granitic intrusions.
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