Transactions of the Royal Society of Edinburgh: Earth Sciences

Research Article

Lachlan Fold Belt granitoids: products of three-component mixing

Third Hutton Symposium: The Origin of Granites and Related Rocks, 3rd, University of Maryland, College Park, USA.

W. J. Collinsa1

a1 W. J. Collins, Department of Geology, University of Newcastle, Newcastle, NSW, 2308, Australia.


The paradox of Lachlan Fold Belt (LFB) granitoids is that although contrasted chemical types (S- and I-types) imply melting of distinct crustal sources, the simple Nd–Sr–Pb–O isotopic arrays indicate a continuum, suggesting mixing of magmatic components. The paradox is resolved by the recognition that the previously inferred, isotopically primitive end-member is itself a crust-mantle mix, so that three general source components, mantle, lower crust and middle crust, comprise the granitoids. Based on Nd isotopic evidence, mantle-derived basaltic magmas melted and mixed with Neoproterozoic-Cambrian, arc-backarc-type material to produce primitive I-type, parental granitoid magmas in the lower–middle crust. Ordovician metasediment, locally underthrust to mid-crustal levels, was remobilised under the elevated geotherms and is most clearly recognised as diatexite in the Cooma complex, but it also exists as gneissic enclaves in S-type granites. The diatexite mixed with the hybrid I-type magmas to produce the parental S-type magmas. Unique parent magma compositions of individual granite suites reflect variations within any or all of the three major source components, or between the mixing proportions. For example, chemical tie-lines between Cooma diatexite and mafic I-type Jindabyne suite magma encompass almost all mafic S-type granites of the vast Bullenbalong supersuite, consistently in the proportion Jindabyne: Cooma, 30:70. The modelling shows that LFB S-type magmas are heavily contaminated I-type magmas, produced by large-scale mixing of hot I-type material with lower temperature diatexite in the middle crust. The model implies a genetic link between migmatite and pluton-scale, crustally derived (S-type) granites.

Given the chemical and isotopic contrasts of the crustally derived source components, and their typically unequal proportions in the magmas, it is not surprising that the LFB granitoids are so distinctive and have been categorised as S- and I-type. The sublinear chemical trends of the granitoid suites are considered to be secondary effects associated with crystal fractionation of unique parental magmas that were formed by three-component mixing. The model obviates the necessity for multiple underplating events and Proterozoic continental basement, in accordance with the observed tectonostratigraphy of the Lachlan Fold Belt.


  • granitoid genesis;
  • crystal fractionation;
  • gabbros;
  • S-type;
  • I-type;
  • enclaves;
  • crustal evolution