Geology and petrogenesis of the Straumsvola nepheline syenite complex, Dronning Maud Land, Antarctica

Chris Harris, Geoffrey H. Grantham

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34 Citations (Scopus)


The 170 Ma Straumsvola nepheline syenite complex in western Dronning Maud Land, Antarctica, is located on the eastern edge of the Penck-Jutul Trough, a major tectonic feature which may be a Palaeozoic-Mesozoic rift system. The 5 km diameter pluton consists entirely of nepheline syenite and can be divided into two volumetrically important units: a relatively structureless outer zone which is overlain by a layered zone. The latter exhibits continuous rhythmic alternations of layers containing different proportions of alkali feldspar to amphibole+Na-rich pyroxene+biotite+nepheline throughout its 350 m thickness. The mafic zone is a volumetrically minor unit which unconformably overlies the layered zone and consists almost entirely of mafic minerals and nepheline. The layered zone shows no systematic stratigraphic variation in major or trace composition or mineral chemistry which is interpreted as being due to a combination of migration of intercumulus liquid and action of deuteric fluids. The remarkably constant thickness of successive layers throughout the layered zone suggests that layering resulted from an internally self-regulating process(es). The layering is defined by changing proportions of alkali feldspar to mafic minerals+nepheline which is consistent with layering being caused by differences in nucleation rate during eutectic crystallization. Dykes associated with the complex show wide-ranging compositions and include both over-and undersaturated types. Low σ18O values of the nepheline syenites (mean 5.9%, n = 9) suggest that the magma from which the nepheline syenites crystallized was mantlederived. Peralkaline microgranite dykes have higher σ18O values (mean 7.3%, n = 4) and it is suggested that they are either undersaturated liquids contaminated by siliceous crust, or derived by partial melting of partly fenitized gneiss. Oxygen isotope ratios of the surrounding gneiss indicate that the intrusion of the nepheline syenite did not cause extensive circulation of meteoric or magmatic hydrothermal fluids.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)513-532
Number of pages20
JournalGeological Magazine
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Jul 1993
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geology


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