Geochemical and Sr-Nd isotopic constraints on the mantle source of Neoproterozoic mafic dikes of the rifted eastern Laurentian margin, north-central Appalachians, USA

Richard A. Volkert, Mark D. Feigenson, Sara Mana, Louise Bolge

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17 Scopus citations


Abundant and widely distributed unmetamorphosed mafic dikes intrude Mesoproterozoic rocks of the New Jersey Highlands. The age of the dikes is imprecisely known but interpreted to fall between 615 and 576. Ma, which is consistent with the range of ages of mafic dikes from Labrador and Nova Scotia south to Pennsylvania that were emplaced along the rifted eastern Laurentian margin. New Jersey Highlands dikes are a few cm to 18. m wide and have lengths of as much as several km. They have sharp, largely discordant contacts against enclosing Mesoproterozoic rocks and aphanitic chilled margins that grade into coarser grained interiors. Columnar joints are present locally and suggest emplacement at a shallow crustal level.Geochemical compositions of the dikes range from alkalic to less common tholeiitic basalt having generally high TiO2, P2O5, Zr, Nb, Y, and La/Yb, and low MgO, Cr, and Ni. TiO2 contents define high-Ti and low-Ti dikes that differ in high field strength elements (HFSE) and light rare earth elements (LREE) but overlap in abundances of most other elements. Dike magma evolved in an ascending mantle plume of OIB-like asthenosphere from enriched higher TiO2 compositions to more depleted lower TiO2 compositions. Subtle differences in the dike compositions are due to variations in the amount of partial melting within the plume and the depth of melt segregation. Sr-Nd isotope values of both dike compositions overlap and are characterized by εNd (T) of +1.5 to +3.8 and initial 87Sr/86Sr ranging from 0.7032 to 0.7077. Higher Sr isotope ratios are interpreted as resulting from local interaction of the dike magma with heterogeneous, high 87Sr/86Sr lithospheric mantle having EMI or EMII-like geochemical characteristics.Dikes form tabular structures that have long segments striking an average of N44°E and short segments striking about east-west. Their regional geometries form right-stepping, rhomb-shaped patterns due to emplacement into rift-related dilational fractures likely formed through a combination of southeast-directed extension and strike-slip shear stresses. Geochemical compositions of the dikes are the same regardless of their structural trend or location implying they formed during a single magmatic event. They, along with other mafic dikes in the north-central Appalachians, were emplaced in a within-plate tectonic setting along the rifted margin of eastern Laurentia, prior to opening of the Iapetus Ocean.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)202-213
Number of pages12
StatePublished - Jan 1 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geology
  • Geochemistry and Petrology


  • Eastern Laurentia
  • Geochemistry
  • Mafic dikes
  • Neoproterozoic
  • New Jersey Highlands
  • Sr-Nd isotopes


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