Orbicules in diorite from the Grenville Front zone of eastern Labrador consist of biotite- and/or hornblende-studded, dioritic cores enclosed by fine-grained shell structures alternately enriched and depleted in biotite. The orbicules occur in a mesocratic, quartz-bearing matrix. Epidote of inferred magmatic origin occurs in all parts of the rock. Plagioclase in the matrix is relatively sodic, and biotite more ferroan than in the orbicules, suggesting that the matrix material has the most evolved composition, and crystallized last.
The diorite is unusually aluminous (orbicules: 24.9-27.4 wt.% Al2O3; matrix: 22.4-23.6% Al2O3) and calcic (orbicules: 7.0-8.4 wt.% CaO; matrix: 6.0-6.9% CaO); it shows a positive Eu anomaly, and has elevated Sr concentrations (1800-2500 ppm Sr), demonstrating that, compositionally, it resembles a plagioclase cumulate. Mass-balance calculations suggest that the orbicule cores had a crystal/melt ratio of ≤5. This accounts for the extreme fractionation of the rock (e.g., in orbicules, Zr <5 ppm). Compared with fractional crystallization patterns, variation diagrams show counter-trends (e.g. the siliceous matrix contains elevated TiO2) or scatter for several components, suggesting that the crystal/melt ratio governed some of the geochemical characteristics of the diorite.
The presence of coarse mafic clots containing primary epidote, biotite and/or hornblende testify to an elevated water content in the orbieule cores. The shell magma apparently formed as a result of the interaction of supercooled orbicule core fluids with the matrix magma, and tended to serve as a reservoir for alkalis and Fe. Alkalis and Ca diffused in opposite directions, possibly as a result of a temperature gradient at the orbicule/matrix interface. This, however, requires decoupling of the thermodiffusional behaviour of alkalis and femic components in hydrated intermediate magma, which contrasts with documented Soret diffusion in mafic systems.
The solidification of the shell magma prior, to the orbicule cores and matrix is attributed to dewatering, consistent with the fine grain size of the shell structures. Except where remobilized core material has disrupted the shells, the cores crystallized in isolation from the matrix, which fractionated toward a more evolved composition.