Geochronology of emplacement and charnockite formation of the Margate Granite Suite, Natal Metamorphic Province, South Africa: Implications for Natal-Maud belt correlations

P. Mendonidis, R. J. Thomas, G. H. Grantham, R. A. Armstrong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


The Margate Granite Suite underlies much of the Margate Terrane of the Natal Metamorphic Province, SE South Africa. It consists of foliated granites grouped into four main lithotypes: garnet leucogranite, garnet-free leucogranite, charnockite and garnet-biotite augen gneiss. In this study we present new U-Pb (SHRIMP) zircon geochronological data on each of the four lithotypes to constrain the timing of emplacement of the various granite phases and of charnockite formation. Magmatic zircon ages span a period of about 125 Ma, indicating that the Margate Suite does not comprise a single coeval group of plutons. The oldest crystallisation age of 1169 ± 14 Ma, obtained from the garnet-biotite augen gneiss phase, is statistically similar to that of the Sikombe Granite which is exposed to the south of the Margate Terrane, with which a correlation is made. This implies that the magmatic history of the Margate Terrane is longer and more complex than previously thought. The original granite protolith of a sample from the charnockitised granite in the thermal aureole of the (ca. 1040 Ma) Oribi Gorge granite yielded an age of 1135 ± 11 Ma, which is statistically similar to the published age of the gneissic Mzimilo Granite in the Mzumbe Terrane. Zircon overgrowths in this sample, dated at 1037 ± 13Ma are coeval with the age of the Oribi Gorge granite and are interpreted to date the secondary charnockitisation of the Margate granite. A sample of a partly charnockitised garnet leucogranite provided an age of 1088±9Ma. This granite contains a pervasive foliation (S2), partly obliterated in charnockitic patches, indicating that both the D2 event and the charnockitisation are younger. This confirms previous work in which the maximum age of the main fabric-forming deformation was constrained by the 1091±9Ma age of the Glenmore Granite. A sample from the garnet leucogranite in the type area of the Margate Granite Suite yielded an age of 1043±4Ma, which is statistically similar to that of the previously dated, garnet-free leucogranite of the Portobello granite, and zircon metamorphic dates of the secondary charnockitisation event associated with emplacement of the Oribi Gorge Suite. Our new data show that the Margate Terrane was subjected to at least four magmatic/thermal events, at ~1170Ma, ~1135-1140Ma, ~1082-1093Ma, and 1025-1050Ma. These events can be correlated with coeval magmatic and thermal episodes in surrounding crustal blocks within Rodinia and Gondwana. In particular the Margate Terrane appears to correlate well with the Vardeklettane Terrane of Dronning Maud Land, East Antarctica and furthermore that the Natal belt may be up to 80Ma older than the Maud belt east of the Heimefront Shear Zone, which is made up of younger crust which was accreted westwards against the Natal belt. In this scenario, the Cape Merdith Complex, West Falkland, which shows no zircon evidence of crust older than ca. 1135 Ma, forms part of the Maud belt, not the older Natal belt.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)189-202
Number of pages14
JournalPrecambrian Research
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Geochronology
  • Granite
  • Maud belt
  • Natal Metamorphic Province
  • Rodinia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geology
  • Geochemistry and Petrology


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