Metaultramafic rocks (MUR) in the Ashe Metamorphic Suite (AMS) of northwestern North Carolina include quartz ± feldspar-bearing QF-amphibolites and quartz-deficient, locally talc-, chlorite-, and/or Mg-amphibole-bearing TC-amphibolites. Some workers divide TC-amphibolites into Todd and Edmonds types, based on mineral and geochemical differences, and we provisionally add a third type – olivine ± pyroxene-rich, Rich Mountain-type rocks. Regionally, MUR bodies range from equant, Rich Mountain- to highly elongate, Todd-TC-amphibolite-type bodies. The MURs exhibit three to five mineral associations containing assemblages with olivine, anthophyllitic amphibole, Mg-hornblende, Mg-actinolite, cummingtonite, and serpentine representing decreasing eclogite to greenschist facies grades of metamorphism over time. MUR protoliths are difficult to determine. Southwestern MUR bodies have remnant olivine ± pyroxene-rich assemblages representing ultrabasic-basic, dunite-peridotite-pyroxenite protoliths. Northeastern TC-amphibolite MURs contain hornblende and actinolitic amphiboles plus chlorites – aluminous and calcic assemblages suggesting to some that metasomatism of basic, QF-amphibolites yields all TC-amphibolites. Yet MgO-CaO-Al2O3 and trace element chemistries of many TC-amphibolites resemble compositions of plagioclase peridotites. We show that a few AMS TC-amphibolites had basaltic/gabbroic protoliths, while presenting arguments opposing application of the metasomatic hypothesis to all TC-amphibolites. We establish that MUR bodies are petrologically heterolithic and that TC-amphibolites are in contact with many rock types; that those with high Cr, Ni, and Mg have olivine- or pyroxene-dominated protoliths; that most exhibit three or more metamorphic mineral associations; and that contacts thought to be metasomatic are structural. Clearly, different MUR bodies have different chemistries representing various protoliths, and have different mineral assemblages, reflecting both chemical composition and metamorphic history. Spot sampling of heterolithic MUR bodies does not reveal MUR body character or history or allow ‘type’ designations. We recommend that the subdivision of MUR bodies into ‘types’ be abandoned and that the metasomatic hypothesis be carefully applied. AMS MURs and associated metamafic rocks likely represent fragments of dismembered ophiolites from various ophiolite types.
Additional publication details
|Publication Subtype||Journal Article|
|Title||Metaultramafic schists and dismembered ophiolites of the Ashe Metamorphic Suite of northwestern North Carolina, USA|
|Series title||International Geology Review|
|Publisher||American Geological Institute|
|Contributing office(s)||Eastern Geology and Paleoclimate Science Center|