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Keywords:

  • dykes;
  • granulite facies metamorphism;
  • leucosomes;
  • magma accumulation;
  • magma channelways;
  • magma migration

Granitic magmas migrated through Early Proterozoic middle–lower crust at Mt Hay, central Australia, via a diverse network of narrow structurally controlled channelways, during a period of progressive W–SW-directed thrusting (D1a–D1d). They utilized existing folds, boudins and shear zones, or created new channels by magmatic fracture either parallel to layering or, rarely, in irregular arrays. The magmas rose obliquely, parallel to the plunging (50–60°) regional elongation direction, which was defined by coaxial folds, boudin necks and a strong mineral-elongation lineation. Megacrystic charnockitic magmas migrated through metre-scale conduits during D1a–D1b, but leucosomes were generally restricted to smaller (centimetre-scale) structures that existed throughout the entire deformation history. Thus, D1a/D1b leucosomes were potential feeders of in situ partial melts to the adjacent larger conduits of charnockite magma, thereby providing a pervasive interconnected network that allowed efficient migration of all magma types during the early stages of thrusting.

The upper–middle crust of the Anmatjira–Reynolds Range area contains abundant megacrystic granitoid sheets that are of similar age and geochemistry to those at Mt Hay. They are considered to have formed as syntectonic intrusions emplaced during W–SW-directed thrusting, as at Mt Hay, suggesting that granitic magmas formed near the base of the continental crust passed through the mid-lower crustal level (25–30 km) exposed at Mt Hay and accumulated, in batholithic proportions, at shallower crustal levels (12–20 km) such as the Anmatjira–Reynolds Range area.

The observations imply that granitoid magmas in the deep crust are capable of pervasive migration through the crust during major compressive, noncoaxial shear deformation. Localization of magmas by sequentially developed, narrow, compressive structures suggests that dilatancy followed successive foliation-forming events, a situation that can occur during steady-state deformation if the effective confining pressures are low, which would be a result of high and possibly variable rates of magma influx. The inferred rapid melt segregation and migration during deformation suggest that large chambers do not form until magma reaches neutral buoyancy in the middle to upper continental crust.