Skip to main content Accessibility help

Petrological and geochemical characteristics of Mesoproterozoic dyke swarms in the Gardar Province, South Greenland: Evidence for a major sub-continental lithospheric mantle component in the generation of the magmas

  • Alexander Bartels (a1), Troels F. D. Nielsen (a1), Seung Ryeol Lee (a2) and Brian G. J. Upton (a3)


The Mesoproterozoic Gardar Province in South Greenland developed in a continental rift-related environment. Several alkaline intrusions and associated dyke swarms were emplaced in Archaean and Ketilidian basement rocks during two main magmatic periods at 1300–1250 Ma and 1180–1140 Ma. The present investigation focuses on mafic dykes from the early magmatic period ('Older Gardar') and the identification of their possible mantle sources.

The rocks are typically fine- to coarse-grained dolerites, transitional between tholeiitic and alkaline compositions with a general predominance of Na over K. They crystallized from relatively evolved, mantle-derived melts and commonly show minor degrees of crustal contamination. Selective enrichment of the large ion lithophile elements Cs, Ba and K and the light rare-earth elements when compared to high field-strength elements indicate significant involvement of a sub-continental lithospheric mantle (SCLM) component in the generation of the magmas. This component was affected by fluid-dominated supra-subduction zone metasomatism, possibly related to the Ketilidian orogeny ∼500 Ma years prior to the onset of Gardar magmatism. Melt generation in the SCLM is further documented by the inferential presence of amphibole in the source region, negative calculated εNd(i) values (–0.47 to –4.40) and slightly elevated 87Sr/86Sr(i) (0.702987 to 0.706472) ratios when compared to bulk silicate earth as well as relatively flat heavy rare-earth element (HREE) patterns ((Gd/Yb)N = 1.4 –1.9) indicating melt generation above the garnet stability field.

The dyke rocks investigated show strong geochemical and geochronological similarities to penecontemporaneous mafic dyke swarms in North America and Central Scandinavia and a petrogenetic link is hypothesized. Considering recent plate reconstructions, it is further suggested that magmatism was formed behind a long-lived orogenic belt in response to back-arc basin formation in the time interval between 1290–1235 Ma.


Corresponding author


Hide All

This paper is published as part of a special set in Mineralogical Magazine, Volume 79(4), 2015, arising out of the March 2014 NAC Conference on the North Atlantic Craton.



Hide All
Allaart, J.H. (1969). The chronology and petrography of the Gardar dykes between Igaliko Fjord and Redekammen, South Greenland. Rapport Gronlands Geologiske Unders0gelse, 25. GEUS, Copenhagen, 26 pp.
Arndt, N.T. and Christensen, U. (1992) The role of lithospheric mantle in continental flood volcanism: Thermal and geochemical constraints. Journal of Geophysical Research, 97, 1096710981.
Ayrton, S.N. (1963) A contribution to the geological investigations in the region of Ivigtut S. W. Greenland. Meddelelser om Gronland, 167. GEUS, Copenhagen, 139 pp.
Bartels, A., Nilsson, M.K.M., Klausen, M.B. and Soderlund, U. (2014) The Gardar Igneous Province, South-East Greenland. South-East Greenland Workshop 2014, Abstract volume. Danmarks og Gronlands Geologiske Undersogelse Rapport (in press).
Berthelsen, A. (1958) Geological map of the Ivigtut peninsula, 1:20000. In: Geological map of Greenland 1:100 000. Ivittuut 61 V.I Syd (A. Berthelsen and N. Henriksen, 1975) Geological Survey of Greenland, Copenhagen.
Berthelsen, A. and Henriksen, N. (1975) Geological map of Greenland, 1:100 000, Ivigtut 61 V. 1 syd. Descriptive text. Geological Survey of Greenland, Copenhagen [also Meddelelser om Gronland 1861].
Blaxland, A.B. and Upton, B.G.J. (1978) Rare-earth distribution in the Tugtutoq younger giant dyke complex: evidence bearing on alkaline magma genesis in South Greenland. Lithos, 11, 288299.
Bondesen, E. (1957) Field map with indicated geological observations. GEUS map archive: 61 V.I 100. GEUS, Copenhagen.
Bondesen, E. (1958) Field map with indicated geological observations. GEUS map archive: 61 V.I 125. GEUS, Copenhagen.
Boynton, W.V. (1984) Geochemistry of the rare earth elements: meteorite studies. Pp. 63114 in: Rare Earth Element Geochemistry (P. Hendersen, editor). Elsevier, Amsterdam.
Brander, L., Soderlund, U. and Bingen, B. (2011) Tracing the 1271—1246 Ma Central Scandinavian Dolerite Group mafic magmatism in Fennoscandia: U—Pb baddeleyite and Hf isotope data on the Moslatt and Borgefjell dolerites. Geological Magazine, 148, 632643.
Bridgwater, D. (1967) Feldspathic inclusions in the Gardar igneous rocks and their relevance to the formation of major anorthosites in the Canadian shield. Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences, 4, 9951014.
Bridgwater, D. and Harry, W.T. (1968) Anorthosite xenoliths and plagioclase megacrysts in Precambrian intrusions of South Greenland. Bulletin Gronlands Geologiske Undersogelse, 77. GEUS, Copenhagen, 243pp [also Meddelelser om Gronland, 185].
Buchan, K.L., Hodych, J.P., Roddick, J.C., Emslie, R.F. and Hamilton, M.A. (1996) Paleomagnetism and U-Pb geochronology of Mesoproterozoic dykes of Labrador and correlations with dykes of southwest Greenland. Abstract p. 37 in: Proterozoic Evolution in the North Atlantic Realm. Program and Abstracts, International conference IGCP Project 371 (Compiled by, C.F. Gower). COPENA-ECSOOT-IBTA conference, Goose Bay, Labrador, Canada.
Cadman, A.C., Heaman, L.M., Tarney, J., Wardle, RJ. and Krogh, T.E. (1993) U-Pb geochronology and geochemical variation within two Proterozoic mafic dyke swarms, Labrador. Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences, 30, 14901504.
Cadman, A.D., Tarney, J. and Baragar, W.R.A. (1995) Nature of mantle source contributions and the role of contamination and in situ crystallisation in the petrogenesis of Proterozoic mafic dykes and flood basalts Labrador. Contributions to Mineralogy and Petrology, 122, 2013–229.
Cann, J.R. (1970) Rb, Sr, Y, Zr and Nb in some ocean floor basaltic rocks. Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 10, 711.
Coulson, I.M., Goodenough, K.M., Pearce, Nand, J.G. Leng, MJ. (2003) Carbonatites and lamprophyres of the Gardar Province—a ‘window’ to the sub-Gardar mantle. Mineralogical Magazine, 67, 855872.
Cullers, R.L. and Berendsen, P. (2011) Mineralogical and Chemical Evolution of Lamproites in Woodson and Wilson Counties, Southeastern Kansas. New Technical Series, 22. Kansas Geological Survey, Kansas, USA.
Davidson, J., Turner, S. and Handley, H. (2007) Amphibole “sponge” in arc crust. Geology, 35, 787790.
DePaolo, D.J. (1988) Neodymium Isotope Geochemistry: An Introduction. Springer-Verlag, New York.
Dudas, F.O. (1992) Petrogenetic evaluation of trace element discrimination diagrams. Pp. 93127 in: Basement Tectonics 8 (MJ. Batholomew, D.W. Hyndman, D.W. Mogk and R. Mason, editors). Kluwer, Dordrecht, The Netherlands.
Ersoy, Y. and Helvaci, C. (2010) FC-AFC-FCA and mixing modeler: A Microsoft® Excel spreadsheet program for modelling geochemical differentiation of magma by crystal fractionation, crustal assimilation and mixing. Computers and Geosciences, 36, 383390.
Evans, D.A.D. and Mitchell, R.N. (2011) Assembly and breakup of the core of Paleoproterozoic—Mesoproterozoic supercontinent Nuna. Geology, 39, 443446.
Fitton, ID., James, D., Leeman, W.P. (1991) Basic magmatism associated with late Cenozoic extension in the Western United States: compositional variations in space and time. Journal of Geophysical Research, 96, 1369313711.
Gallagher, K and Hawkesworth, C. (1992) Dehydration melting and the generation of continental flood basalts. Nature, 258 (1992), 5759.
Garde, A.A., Hamilton, M.A., Chadwick, B., Grocott, J. and McCaffrey, KJ.W. (2002) The Ketilidian orogen of South Greenland: geochronology, tectonics, magmatism and fore-arc accretion during Palaeoproterozoic oblique convergence. Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences, 39, 765793.
Goldstein, S.L., O'Nions, R.K. and Hamilton, PJ. (1984) A Sm—Nd isotopic study of the atmospheric dust and particulates from major river systems. Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 70, 221236.
Goodenough, KM. (1997) Geochemistry of Gardar intrusions in the Ivittuut area, South Greenland. PhD thesis, Edinburgh University, Edinburgh, UK.
Goodenough, KM., Upton, B.GJ. and Ellam, R.M. (2002) Long-term memory of subduetion processes in the lithospheric mantle. Evidence from the geochemistry of basic dykes in the Gardar Province of South Greenland. Journal of the Geological Society (London), 159, 110.
Halama, R., Waight, T. and Markl, G. (2002) Geochemical and isotopic zoning patterns of plagio-clase megacrysts in gabbroic dykes from the Gardar Province, South Greenland: implications for crystallisation processes in anorthositic magmas. Contributions to Mineralogy and Petrology, 144, 109127.
Halama, R., Wenzel, T., Upton, B.G.J., Siebel, W. and Markl, G. (2003) A geochemical and Sr-Nd-0 isotopic study of the Proterozoic Eriksfjord Basalts, Gardar Province, South Greenland: Reconstruction of an OIB signature in crustally contaminated rift-related basalts. Mineralogical Magazine, 67, 831853.
Halama, R., Marks, M., Brugmann, G., Siebel, W., Wenzel, T. and Markl, G. (2004) Crustal contamination of mafic magmas: evidence from a petrological and Sr-Nd-Os-O isotopic study of the Proterozoic Isortoq dike swarm, South Greenland. Lithos, 74, 199232.
Halama, R., Vennemann, T., Siebel, W. and Markl, G. (2005) The Gronnedal-Ika carbonatite—syenite complex, South Greenland: Carbonatite formation by liquid immiscibility. Journal of Petrology, 46, 191217.
Halama, R., Joron, J.-L., Villemant, B., Markl, G. and Treuil, M., (2007) Trace element constraints on mantle sources during mid-Proterozoic magmatism: evidence for a link between the Gardar (South Greenland) and Abitibi (Canadian Shield) mafic rocks. Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences, 44, 459478.
Hamilton, M.A., Buchan, K.L. and Hodych, IP. (2010) Nain/Gardar-aged mafic dykes as a temporal and magmatic ‘bridge’ across North Atlantic cratonic blocks: geochronologic, paleomagnetic and geochemical evidence from Labrador and SW Greenland. Conference abstract, 6* International Dyke Conference, Varanasi, India, Third and Final Circular, IDC-6 abstracts.
Hawkesworth, C. J., Turner, S.P., McDermott, F., Peate, D.W. and van Calsteren, P. (1997) U-Th isotopes in arc magmas: implications for element transfer from the subducted crust. Science, Ibid, 551—555.
Hollings, P. and Kerrich, R. (2004) Geochemical systematics of tholeiites from the 2.86 Ga pickle crow assemblage, northwestern Ontario: arc basalts with positive and negative Nb—Hf anomalies. Preeambrian Research, 134, 120.
Hollings, P. and Kerrich, R. (2006) Light rare earth element depleted to enriched basaltic flows from 2.8 to 2.7 Ga greenstone belts of the Uchi subprovince, Ontario, Canada. Chemical Geology, 227, 133153.
Irvine, T.N. and Baragar, W.R.A. (1971) A guide to the chemical classification of the common volcanic rocks. Canadian Journal of Earth Science, 8, 523548.
Jacobson, S.B. and Wasserburg, GJ. (1980) Sm-Nd isotopic evolution of chondrites. Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 50, 139155.
Johansson, A. (2013) From Rodinia to Gondwana with the ‘SAMBA’ model—A distant view from Baltic towards Amazonia and beyond. Preeambrian Research, 244, 226235.
Jordan, T.H. (1988) Structure and formation of the continental tectosphere. Special Issue: Oceanic and continental lithosphere: Similarities and differences. Journal of Petrology, Special Volume 1, 11—37.
Jourdan, F., Bertrand, H., Sharer, U., Blichert-Toft, J., Feraud, G. and Kampunzu, A.B. (2007) Major and trace element and Sr, Nd, Hf, and Pb isotope compositions of the Karoo large igneous province, Botswana—Zimbabwe: lithosphere vs mantle plume contribution. Journal of Petrology, 48, 10431077.
Jourdan, F., Bertrand, H., Feraud, G., Le Gall, B. and Watkeys, M.K. (2009) Lithospheric mantle evolution monitored by overlapping large igneous provinces: Case study in southern Africa. Lithos, 107, 257268.
Karlstrom, K.E., Ahall, K-I., Harlan, S.S., Williams, MX., McLelland, J. and Geissman, J.W. (2001) Long-lived (1.8—1.0 Ga) convergent orogen in southern Laurentia, its extensions to Australia and Baltica, and implications for refining Rodinia. Preeambrian Research, 111, 530.
Kohler, J., Schonenberger, J., Upton, B.G.J. and Markl, G. (2009) Halogen and trace element geochemistry in the magmatic Gardar Province, South Greenland: evidence for subduction-related mantle metasomatism and fluid exsolution processes from alkaline melts. Lithos, 113, 731747.
Kretz, R. (1983) Symbols for rock-forming minerals. American Mineralogist, 68, 277279.
Luttinen, A.V. and Furnes H. (2000) Flood Basalts of Vestfjella: Jurassic Magmatism Across an Archaean—Proterozoic Lithospheric Boundary in Dronning Maud Land, Antarctica. Journal of Petrology, 41, 12711305.
Luttinen, A.V., Ramo, O.T. and Huhma, H. (1998) Nd and Sr isotopic and trace element composition of a Mesozoic CFB suite from Dronning Maud Land, Antarctica: implications for lithosphere and astheno-sphere contributions to Karoo magmatism. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, 62, 27012714.
Manikyamba, C, Kerrich, R., Khanna, T.C., Satyanarayanan, M. and Krishna, A.K. (2009) Enriched and depleted arc basalts, with Mg-andesites and adakites: a potential paired arc-back-arc of the 2.6 Ga Hutti greenstone terrane, India. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, 73, 17111736.
Mattsson, H.B. and Oskarsson, N. (2005) Petrogenesis of alkaline basalts at the tip of a propagating rift: evidence from the Heimaey volcanic centre, south Iceland. Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research, 147, 245267.
McCulloh, M.T. and Gamble, A.J. (1991) Geochemical and geodynamical constraints on subduction zone magmatism. Earth Planetary and Science Letters, 102, 358374.
McDonough, W.F.M. and Sun, S.S. (1995) The composition of the Earth. Chemical Geology, 120, 223253.
Moine, B.N., Gregoire, M., O'Reilly, S.Y., Sheppard, S.M. and Cottin, J.-Y. (2001) High Field Strength Element Fractionation in the Upper Mantle: evidence from amphibole-rich composite mantle xenoliths from the Kerguelen Islands (Indian Ocean. Journal of Petrology, 42, 21452167.
Moore, J.M. and Thompson, P. (1980) The Flinton group: a late Preeambrian metasedimentary sequence in the Grenville Province of eastern Ontario. Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences, 17, 16851707.
Munker, C, Worner, G., Yogodzinski, G. and Churikova, T. (2004) Behaviour of high field strength elements in subduction zones: constraints from Kamchatka-Aleutian arc lavas. Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 224, 275293.
O'Reilly, S.Y., Griffin, W.L. and Ryan, C.G. (1991) Residence of trace elements in metasomatised spinel lherzolite xenoliths: a proton microprobe study. Contributions to Mineralogy Petrology, 109, 98113.
Pearce, J.A. (1996) A user's guide to basalt discrimination diagrams. Pp. 79113 in: Trace Element Geochemistry of Volcanic Rocks: Appliction for Massive Sulphide Exploration (Wyman, D.A., editor). Geological Association of Canada, Short Course Notes, 12.
Pearce, J.A. (2008) Geochemical fingerprinting of oceanic basalts with applications to ophiolite classification and the search for Archean oceanic crust. Lithos, 100, 1448.
Pearce, J.A. and Parkinson, I.J. (1993) Trace element models for mantle melting: application to volcanic arc petrogenesis. Pp. 373403 in: Magmatic Processes and Plate Tectonics (Prichard, H.M., editor). Geological Society of London Special Publication 76. The Geological Society, London.
Pearce, J.A. and Peate, D.W. (1995) Tectonic implica-tions of the composition of volcanic arc magmas. Annual Review of Earth and Planetary Sciences, 23, 251285.
Pearce, J.A., Barker, P.F., Edwards, S.J., Parkinson, I.J. and Leat, P.T. (2000) Geochemistry and tectonic significance of peridotites from the south Sandwich arc basin system, South Atlantic. Contributions to Mineralogy and Petrology, 139, 3653.
Polat, A. and Kerrich, R. (1999) Formation of an Archaean tectonic melange in the Schreiber—Hemlo greenstone belt, superior Province, Canada: implications for Archaean subduction—accretion process. Tectonics, 18, 733755.
Polat, A. and Kerrich, R. (2002) Nd-isotope systematics of-2.7 Ga adakites, magnesian andesites, and arc basalts, Superior Province: evidence for shallow crustal recycling at Archean subduction zones. Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 202, 345360.
Polat, A. and Munker, C. (2004) Hf-Nd isotope evidence for contemporaneous subduction processes in the source of late Archaean arc lavas from the Superior Province, Canada. Chemical Geology, 213, 403429.
Powell, R. (1984) Inversion of the assimilation and fractional crystallization (AFC) equations; characterization of contaminants from isotope and trace element relationships in volcanic suites. Journal of the Geological Society, 141, 447452.
Ray, J., Saha, A., Koeberl, C, Thoni, M., Ganguly, S. and Hazra, S. (2013) Geochemistry and petrogenesis of Proterozoic mafic rocks from East Khasi Hills, Shillong Plateau, Northeastern India. Precambrian Research, 230, 119137.
Rivers, T., 1997. Lithotectonic elements of the Grenville province: review and tectonic implications. Precambrian Research, 86, 117154.
Rock, N.M.S. (1991) Lamprophyres. Blackie and Son, Glasgow, UK, 285 pp.
Roeder, P.L. and Emslie, R.F. (1970) Olivine-liquid equilibrium. Contributions to Mineralogy and Petrology, 29, 275289.
Rollinson, H.R. (1993) Using Geochemical Data: Evaluation, Presentation, Interpretation. Addison Wesley Longman, Harlow, UK.
Shellnutt, J.G. and MacRae, N.D. (2012) Petrogenesis of the Mesoproterozoic (1.23 Ga) Sudbury dyke swarm and its questionable relationship to plate separation. International Journal of Earth Sciences, 101, 323.
Soderlund, U., Elming, S.-A., Ernst, R.E. and Schissel, D. (2006) The Central Scandinavian Dolerite group—protracted hotspot activity or back-arc magma-tism? Constraints from U-Pb baddeleyite geochro-nology and Hf isotopic data. Precambrian research, 150, 136152.
Sun, S.-S. and McDonough, W.F. (1989) Chemical and isotopic systematics of oceanic basalts: implications for mantle composition and processes. Pp. 313345 in: Magmatism in the Ocean Basins (Saunders, A.D. and Norry, M.J. , editors). Geological Society of London Special Publication 42. Geological Society, London.
Taubald, H., Morteani, G. and Satir, M. (2004) Geochemical and isotopic (Sr, C, O) data from the alkaline complex of Gronnedal-Ika (South Greenland): evidence for unmixing and crustal contamination. International Journal of Earth Sciences, 93, 348360.
Turner, S., Hawkesworth, C.J., Gallagher, K, Stewart, K., Peate, D.W. and Mantovani, M. (1996) Mantle plumes, flood basalts, and thermal models for melt generation beneath continents: Assessment of a conductive heating model and application to the Parana. Journal of Geophysical Research, 101(B5), 11503-11518.
Upton, B.G.J. (1991) Gardar-age mantle xenoliths: Igdlutalik S. Greenland. Rapport Gronlands Geologiske Undersogelse, 150, 3743.
Upton, B.G.J. (2013) Tectono-magmatic evolution of the younger Gardar southern rift, South Greenland. Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland Bulletin 29. GEUS, Copenhagen.
Upton, B.G.J. and Emeleus, C.H. (1987) Mid-Proterozoic alkaline magmatism in southern Greenland. Pp. 449471 in: Alkaline Igneous Rocks (Fitton, J.G. and Upton, B.G.J. , editors). Blackwell Scientific Publications, Oxford, UK.
Upton, B.G.J., Emeleus, C.H., Heaman, L.M., Goodenough, K.M. and Finch, A. (2003) Magmatism of the mid-Proterozoic Gardar Province, South Greenland: chronology, petro-genesis and geological setting. Lithos, 68, 4365.
Upton, B.G.J., Craven, J.A. and Kirstein, L.A. (2006) Crystallisation of mela-aillikites of the Narsaq region, Gardar alkaline province, South Greenland and relationships to other aillikitic-carbonatitic associations in the province. Lithos, 92, 300319.
Walton, B.J. (1963) Field map with indicated geological observations. GEUS map archive: 61 V.3 34b. GEUS, Copenhagen.
Wegmann, C.E. (1938) Geological investigations in southern Greenland. Part I. On the structural divisions of southern Greenland. Meddelelser om Gronland, 113. GEUS, Copenhagen, 148 pp.
White, R.S. and McKenzie, D. (1989) Magmatism at rift zones: the generation of volcanic continental margins and flood basalts. Journal of Geophysical Research, 97, 76857729.
Winchester, J.A. and Floyd, P.A. (1977) Geochemical classification of different magma series and their differentiation products using immobile elements. Chemical Geology, 20, 325343.
Wood, D.A. (1980) The application of a Th-Hf-Ta diagram to problems of teetonomagmatie classification and to establishing the nature of crustal contamination of basaltic lavas of the British Tertiary volcanic province. Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 50, 1130.
Woodhead, J., Eggins, S. and Gamble, J. (1993) High field strength and transition element systematies in island arc and back arc basin basalts: evidence for multi-phase melt extraction and a depleted mantle wedge. Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 114, 491504.
Woodhead, J.D., Hergt, J.M., Davidson, J.P. and Eggins, S.M. (2001) Hafnium isotope evidence for ‘conservative’ element mobility during subduction zone processes. Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 192, 331346.
Wyman, D. and Kerrich, R. (2009) Plume and arc magmatism in the Abitibi Subprovince: implications for the origin of Archean continental lithospheric mantle. Precambrian Research, 168, 422.
Wyman, D.A., Bleeker, W. and Kerrich, R. (1999) A 2.7 Ga komatiite, low-Ti tholeiite, arc transition, and inferred protoarc geodynamic setting of the kidd creek deposit: evidence for adakitic metasomatism above an Archean subduction zone. Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 179, 2130.


Type Description Title
Supplementary materials

Bartels et al. supplementary material
Table 2

 Excel (188 KB)
188 KB


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed