A U-Th-Pb study of Archean metabasalts from two greenstone belts in the eastern Wawa Subprovince of the Canadian shield indicated variable disturbances had occurred in both whole rock systems. Changes in the Pb content appear to predominate over loss of parent elements, and meaningful Pb isochron ages could not be obtained from either of the metabasalts. Detailed leaching experiments on the rocks and analysis of associated disseminated sulphides indicate that the Pb isotopic compositions of the whole rocks are dominated by updated, but for the most part cogenetic, sulphides. Model ages for Pb released by sulphides and metabasalt acid leaches suggest that the sulphide Pb has been updated or remobilized during discrete (thermal ?) episodes. The validity of the inferred events is supported by ages indicated by other isotopic systems for nearby rocks. The silicate residues of the acid leached volcanics give well-defined Pb isochron ages. The Gamitagama belt metabasalt has a Pb isochron age of 2694 ?? 54 Ma. Zircons from this rock unit have been dated by U-Pb at 2691 Ma, demonstrating that the acid leaching technique on whole rocks can isolate residues which give meaningful ages. Sulphides in this metabasalt appear to be affected by an event at 2.55 Ga. A similar rock from the Michipicoten belt has undergone a multistage history and yields a Pb isochron age of 2761 ?? 36 Ma, consistent with a zircon U-Pb date for overlying felsic metavolcanic rocks. Later events affecting this basalt occurred at approximately 2.4, 2.2 and 1.6 Ga. The results show that through acid leaching, the primary ages of metabasalts and their later overprinting histories can be approximated. Initial Pb ratios for these metabasalts have been estimated. It appears that both depleted and enriched mantle reservoirs contributed to volcanism in this area. Acid leaching, combined with measurement of U and Th contents, appears to be a useful tool for better understanding the Pb isotope systematics of Archean metabasalts. ?? 1989.
Additional publication details
Assessment of the U-Th-Pb system in two Archean metabasalts: Deciphering the complex histories of sulphides and silicates using acid leaching methods