Preserved ancient oceanic lithosphere within the Buem structural unit at the eastern margin of the West African Craton

Daniel Kwayisi, Marlina Elburg, Jeremie Lehmann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


This work presents new major and trace element geochemical data and the first Sm[sbnd]Nd and Lu[sbnd]Hf isotopic data for the mafic suite of the Buem structural unit (BSU) in Ghana in order to infer its origin and geodynamic setting, relationship to the Pharusian suture zone and significance in the Dahomeyide belt. The BSU, which occurs about 50 km to the west of the Pharusian suture zone, comprises well-preserved, weakly metamorphosed, mafic volcanic and mafic-ultramafic plutonic rocks. Two lava types can be distinguished: Type I and Type II lavas that are spatially separated and geochemically distinct. The Type I lavas are subalkaline and show trace element patterns akin to mid-ocean ridge basalt (MORB). Their εNd800Ma values of +5.3 to +6.2 and εHf800Ma values of +11.1 to +17.2 are indications of juvenile magma derived from a depleted mantle source in the spinel stability field. The Type II lavas have alkaline signatures with trace element patterns that resemble ocean island basalts. They formed by smaller degrees of disequilibrium partial melting at depth in which garnet likely played a role as a residual phase having εHf800Ma and εNd800Ma values of +3.2 to +5.1 and + 4.1 to +6.3 respectively. The gabbros show similar trace elements concentration and isotopic ratios as the BSU lavas, an indication of a similar mantle source and environment of formation. Because the geochemical features of the BSU mafic suites are comparable to the MORB-type high-pressure rocks of the Pharusian suture zone, both represent the remnant of the Pharusian oceanic crust, formed during the breakup of Rodinia. The BSU corresponds to the true oceanic crust of the West Gondwana Orogen continental margin-type ophiolite, sharing similar lithological and geochemical features to other continental margin-type ophiolites in the world.

Original languageEnglish
Article number106585
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2022


  • Continental margin ophiolite
  • Dahomeyide belt
  • Pan-African orogeny
  • Seafloor spreading
  • West Gondwana Orogen

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geology
  • Geochemistry and Petrology


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