Multiple origins of charnockite in the Mesoproterozoic Natal belt, Kwazulu-Natal, South Africa

G. H. Grantham, P. Mendonidis, R. J. Thomas, M. Satish-Kumar

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26 Citations (Scopus)


Four different varieties of charnockitic rocks, with different modes of formation, from the Mesoproterozoic Natal belt are described and new C isotope data presented. Excellent coastal exposures in a number of quarries and river sections make this part of the Natal belt a good location for observing charnockitic field relationships. Whereas there has been much debate on genesis of charnockites and the use of the term charnockite, it is generally recognized that the stabilization of orthopyroxene relative to biotite in granitoid rocks is a function of low aH2O (± high CO2), high temperature, and composition (especially Fe/(Fe +Mg)). From the Natal belt exposures, it is evident that syn-emplacement, magmatic crystallization of charnockite can arise from mantle-derived differentiated melts that are inherently hot and dry (as in the Oribi Gorge granites and Munster enderbite), as well as from wet granitic melts that have been affected through interaction with dry country rock to produce localized charnockitic marginal facies in plutons (as in the Portobello Granite). Two varieties of post-emplacement sub-solidus charnockites are also evident. These include charnockitic aureoles developed in leucocratic, biotite, garnet granite adjacent to cross-cutting enderbitic veins that are attributed to metamorphic-metasomatic processes (as in the Nicholson's Point granite, a part of the Margate Granite Suite), as well as nebulous, patchy charnockitic veins in the Margate Granite that are attributed to anatectic metamorphic processes under low-aH2O fluid conditions during a metamorphic event. These varieties of charnockite show that the required physical conditions of their genesis can be achieved through a number of geological processes, providing some important implications for the classification of charnockites, and for the interpretation of charnockite genesis in areas where poor exposure obscures field relationships.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)755-771
Number of pages17
JournalGeoscience Frontiers
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Charnockite igneous
  • Metamorphic
  • Natal belt

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


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