Zircon ages and Hf isotopic systematics reveal vestiges of Mesoproterozoic to Archaean crust within the late Neoproterozoic–Cambrian high-grade terrain of southernmost India
Late Neoproterozoic to Cambrian ages have been widely recorded from the Southern Granulite Terrain (SGT) of India and were correlated with global tectono-thermal (Pan-African) events associated with amalgamation of the Gondwana supercontinent. We report results of single zircon dating from a charnockite and a granitic augen–gneiss from the SGT using SHRIMP and evaporation techniques, complemented by zircon Hf isotopic systematics. The SHRIMP data for zircons in the charnockite are spread along a well-defined discordia line suggesting variably strong lead–loss during the late Neoproterozoic Pan-African event. A concordant grain yielded a 207Pb/206Pb age of 1893 ± 13 Ma, and the upper intercept of the discordia line for all analyses with Concordia is at 1881 ± 14 Ma. The concordant grain age is considered to most closely reflect the time of emplacement of the charnockite protolith. The imprecise lower Concordia intercept at 572 ± 25 Ma is likely to reflect Pb-loss during granulite-facies metamorphism. Evaporation of four zircons yielded consistent 207Pb/206Pb isotopic ratios at high evaporation temperatures of ca. 1598 °C, suggesting an age of ca. 1450 Ma. This date is clearly much younger than the SHRIMP result and suggests that the evaporated grains no longer contained their original, magmatic 207Pb/206Pb ratios but record strong Pb-loss as also shown by the SHRIMP data. Lu–Hf isotopic analysis of ten spots on zircon grains previously analyzed by SHRIMP II yielded strongly negative ÎµHf(t)-values of − 6.1 to − 9.2 and mean Hf crustal residence ages of 2.95 to 3.14 Ga. Eight grains from the augen–gneiss analyzed on SHRIMP II also show variable but considerable Pb-loss. A concordant grain yielded an age of 1557 ± 16 Ma, and the other grains define a discordia line with an upper Concordia intercept at 1553 ± 21 Ma. Two unzoned grains produced a combined mean 206Pb/238U age of 583 ± 6 Ma and reflect the high-grade late Neoproterozoic metamorphic event. A concordant 207Pb/206Pb age of 2043 ± 13 Ma was obtained for a xenocryst. Evaporation of five large zircons from this sample yielded a precise mean 207Pb/206Pb age of 1556.0 ± 0.5 Ma, identical to the result for the SHRIMP-dated concordant grain. Lu–Hf isotopic analysis of ten spots on zircon grains from where SHRIMP data were gathered yielded strongly negative ÎµHf(t)-values of − 6.0 to − 17.0 and mean Hf crustal residence ages of 2.68 to 3.37 Ga. Our results suggest that not all rocks in the so-called Pan-African domain of southern India are Neoproterozoic in age, and that there could be more Mesoproterozoic to Archaean crust hidden in the “sea” of Neoproterozoic granulites, granitoids and migmatites than so far recognized. The Hf isotopic data reveal both granitoid samples to be derived from crustal melts generated from Archaean continental crust, and the chemistry of these rocks is inherited from their ancient source. We compare the zircon ages with those of similar rocks in the Highland Complex of Sri Lanka and discuss their relevance as vestiges of an older continental terrain incorporated within the late Neoproterozoic–Cambrian collision belt of East Gondwana. In view of rock and age similarities we tentatively suggest links between the Indian Trivandrum and Madurai Blocks and the Sri Lankan Highland and Wanni Complexes. âº Two granulites in the Trivandrum Block have Proterozoic protolith ages. âº Zircon Hf isotopic data reveal melting of Archaean crustal sources. âº Crustal-melt granites cannot be used to reconstruct tectonic settings. âº The Trivandrum and Madurai blocks are similar to the Highland and Wanni Complexes in Sri Lanka.