Mafic rocks in the Ryoke belt, the Cretaceous granitic province in Southwest Japan, occur in two modes: (1) as mafic dykes and pillow-shaped enclaves, and (2) as isolated kilometresized bodies of gabbroic cumulate. The dykes and pillows have fine-grained textures with thin radiating plagioclase laths, indicative of quenching. The gabbroic cumulates are predominantly coarse-grained and commonly lithologically layered.
SHRIMP zircon U-Pb ages of both types of mafic rocks are in the range 71–86 Ma, late Cretaceous. The mafic rocks become younger eastwards, matching the along-arc age trend of the associated Cretaceous granites (Nakajima et al. 1990). Both types of mafic rocks were apparently generated during the same magmatic event that produced the Ryoke/San-yo granites. The mafic dykes and pillows are aphyric basaltic-andesites to andesites (SiO2 54–60 wt.%), with microphenocrysts of biotite and hornblende. They have a composition which is similar to mafic rocks from the northern Sierra Nevada, and also to medium-K calc-alkaline rocks from present-day arc volcanics. The gabbroic cumulates are mostly pyroxene-hornblende gabbros (SiO2 43–52 wt.%). Their bulk-rock chemical compositions are mostly unlike any magma compositions.
Both types of mafic rocks from the Ryoke belt have relatively high 87Sr/86Sr initial ratios (SrI), 0·7071–0·7097, which are similar to those of the associated granites. The granites were formed either by fractional crystallisation of the mafic magmas, or by partial melting of newly formed mafic rocks at depth. The high SrI indicates that the mafic magmas were derived from enriched mantle or mixed with enriched crustal materials. Even if the mixing occurred between primitive basaltic magma and metasedimentary rocks, then the basaltic andesite–andesite magmas must have contained more than 60% mantle-derived components. The Cretaceous magmatism in Southwest Japan represents a major episode of crustal growth by additions from the upper mantle in an arc setting.