The Late Neoproterozoic (735-702 Ma) Robertson River Igneous Suite includes at least eight plutons ranging in composition from syenogranite to alkali feldspar granite to alkali feldspar syenite. These plutons intruded Mesoproterozoic (1.2-1.0 Ga) gneissic basement of the Blue Ridge anticlinorium in northern and central Virginia during an early episode of Laurentian rifting. Robertson River plutons range in composition from metaluminous to peralkaline and, relative to other granite types, exhibit compositional characteristics of A-type granitoids including (1) marked enrichment in Nb, Zr, Y, REE (except Eu), and Ga, (2) high Ga/Al and FeO(total)/MgO, and (3) depletion of Ba and Sr. High Ga/Al ratios are particularly diagnostic of the suite and serve as an effective discriminant between originally metaluminous and peralkaline bulk compositions, providing a useful proxy for widely used indicators based on major elements that are prone to remobilization. U-Pb isotopic analyses of zircons indicate that the suite was emplaced in two pulses, occurring at 735 to 722 and 706 to 702 Ma. Metaluminous magmas were emplaced during both pulses, formed most of the main batholith, and fractionated as independent, time-correlative groups. Peralkaline magmas were emplaced only during the final pulse, formed a volcanic center that erupted unknown quantities of rhyolite, and experienced a style of fractionation similar to the metaluminous types. Differences in Ce/Nb, Y/Nb, and Yb/Ta ratios suggest that the metaluminous and peralkaline magmas were derived from different sources. The Robertson River Igneous Suite is part of a regional group of Late Neoproterozoic (760-700 Ma) plutons including at least 20 other A-type granitoid bodies exposed throughout the Laurentian terrane of Virginia and northwestern North Carolina. Like the Robertson River, most of the other granitoids are metaluminous in composition, typically form multi-intrusive, elongate plutons, and are not geographically constrained to the vicinity of major Neoproterozoic volcanic centers. The Late Neoproterozoic plutons of the Laurentian Appalachians are similar in lithology, composition, and style of emplacement to Miocene granitoids that occur on the southern flanks of the present Red Sea rift and that are considered a younger analog of the Appalachian plutons. However, the Red Sea granitoids were emplaced within a few million years of the initial development of oceanic crust whereas the Appalachian plutons appear largely to have pre-dated development of the Iapetus Ocean by about 130 my.
Additional publication details
Petrology and U-PB geochronology of the Robertson River Igneous Suite, Blue Ridge province, Virginia - Evidence for multistage magmatism associated witn an early episode of Laurentian rifting