4350–3130 Ma detrital zircons in the Southern Cross Granite–Greenstone Terrane, Western Australia: implications for the early evolution of the Yilgarn Craton

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*Corresponding author: stephen.wyche@doir.wa.gov.au

Abstract

SHRIMP U-Pb zircon analysis indicates that detrital zircons from extensive quartzite units in the Southern Cross Granite–Greenstone Terrane of the central Yilgarn Craton have ages ranging from ca 4350 Ma to ca 3130 Ma. Regional mapping studies indicate that the quartzites lie at the stratigraphic base of the exposed succession. The detrital zircon age profiles of the Southern Cross Granite–Greenstone Terrane quartzites are remarkably similar to those of quartzites in the Narryer and South West Terranes, in the northwest and southwest of the Yilgarn Craton respectively, and are significantly older than any igneous rocks that have been dated anywhere in the Yilgarn Craton other than the Narryer Terrane. Similar detrital-zircon-bearing quartzites have not been identified in the Murchison Granite–Greenstone Terrane. These age profiles suggest that the quartzites have a common depositional history. Granites in the central Yilgarn Craton are mainly younger than ca 2750 Ma and contain rare xenocrystic zircons older than 3100 Ma. If the central and western Yilgarn quartzites were all deposited at approximately the same time, the lack of preserved continental crust in the Southern Cross and Murchison Granite–Greenstone Terranes, and the South West Terrane, that is older than 3100 Ma, suggests that pre-3100 Ma Narryer-like continental crust may have been rifted or extensively reworked during deposition of greenstone successions between ca 3000 and ca 2700 Ma. If not, then a ca 4350 Ma detrital zircon in the Southern Cross Granite–Greenstone Terrane indicates more widespread, very old, continental crust than has previously been identified.

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