Flow banding in basaltic pillow lavas from the early Archean Hooggenoeg Formation, Barberton greenstone belt, South Africa

Robins, B.; Sandsta, N.R.; Furnes, H.; de Wit, M.

Bulletin of Volcanology 72.5

2010


ISSN/ISBN: 0258-8900
DOI: 10.1007/s00445-009-0341-3
Accession: 037055181

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Abstract
Well-preserved pillow lavas in the uppermost part of the Early Archean volcanic sequence of the Hooggenoeg Formation in the Barberton Greenstone Belt exhibit pronounced flow banding. The banding is defined by mm to several cm thick alternations of pale green and a dark green, conspicuously variolitic variety of aphyric metabasalt. Concentrations of relatively immobile Ti O2, Al2O3 and Cr in both varieties of lava are basaltic. Compositional differences between bands and variations in the lavas in general have been modified by alteration, but indicate mingling of two different basalts, one richer in Ti O2, Al2O3, Mg O, Fe Ot and probably Ni and Cr than the other, as the cause of the banding. The occurrence in certain pillows of blebs of dark metabasalt enclosed in pale green metabasalt, as well as cores of faintly banded or massive dark metabasalt, suggest that breakup into drops and slugs in the feeder channel to the lava flow initiated mingling. The inhomogeneous mixture was subsequently stretched and folded together during laminar shear flow through tubular pillows, while diffusion between bands led to partial homogenisation. The most common internal pattern defined by the flow banding in pillows is concentric. In some pillows the banding defines curious mushroom-like structures, commonly cored by dark, variolitic metabasalt, which we interpret as the result of secondary lateral flow due to counter-rotating, transverse (Dean) vortices induced by the axial flow of lava towards the flow front through bends, generally downward, in the tubular pillows. Other pillows exhibit weakly-banded or massive, dark, variolitic cores that are continuous with wedge-shaped apophyses and veins that intrude the flow banded carapace. These cores represent the flow of hotter and less viscous slugs of the dark lava type into cooled and stiffened pillows.

Flow banding in basaltic pillow lavas from the early Archean Hooggenoeg Formation, Barberton greenstone belt, South Africa