The largely basaltic, ???4.5-6.2-km-thick, Middle to Upper Triassic Karmutsen Formation is a prominent part of the Wrangellian sequence. Twelve analyses of major and minor elements of representative samples of pillowed and massive basalt flows and sills from Queen Charlotte and Vancouver Islands are ferrotholeiites that show a range of 10.2-3.8% MgO (as normalized, H2O- and CO2-free) and related increases in TiO2 (1.0-2.5%), Zr (43-147 ppm) and Nb (5-16 ppm). Other elemental abundances are not related simply to MgO: distinct groupings are evident in Al2O3, Na2O and Cr, but considerable scatter is present in FeO* (FeO + 0.9Fe2O3) and CaO. Some of the variation is attributed to alteration during low-rank metamorphism or by seawater - including variation of Ba, Rb, Sr and Cu, but high-field-strength elements (Sc, Ti, Y, Zr and Nb) as well as Cr, Ni, Cu and rare-earth elements (REE's) were relatively immobile. REE's show chondrite-normalized patterns ranging from light-REE depleted to moderately light-REE enriched. On eleven discriminant plots these analyses fall largely into or across fields of within-plate basalt (WIP), normal or enriched mid-ocean-ridge tholeiite (MORB) and island-arc tholeiite (IAT). Karmutsen basalts are chemically identical to the stratigraphically equivalent Nikolai Greenstone of southern Alaska and Yukon Territory. These data and the fact that the Karmutsen rests on Sicker Group island-arc rocks of Paleozoic age suggest to us that: 1. (1) the basal arc, after minor carbonate-shale deposition, underwent near-axial back-arc rifting (as, e.g., the Mariana arc rifted at different times); 2. (2) the Karmutsen basalts were erupted along this rift or basin as "arc-rift" tholeiitite; and 3. (3) after subsequent deposition of carbonates and other rocks, and Jurassic magmatism, a large fragment of this basalt-sediment-covered island arc was accreted to North America as Wrangellia. The major- and minor-elemental abundances of Karmutsen basalt is modeled by first mixing primitive arc magma with enriched basaltic liquid derived either from garnet peridotite or metasomatized mantle, followed by fractionation of olivine, pyroxenes, plagioclase and spinel. ?? 1989.
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Back-arc with frontal-arc component origin of Triassic Karmutsen basalt, British Columbia, Canada