Yilgarn Craton - Western Gneiss Terrane

Western Gneiss Terrane

The Western Gneiss Terrane is a series of polydeformed high-grade early Archaean metamorphic belts, composed predominantly of feldspathic leucocratic granulite gneisses, which represent some of the oldest crustal fragments on Earth. The Western Gneiss Terrane is distinct from the remainder of the Yilgarn Craton in that the latter has a predominance of metavolcanic rocks, both felsic and mafic, whereas the former consists of high-grade metasediments and gneisses of unknown protolith.

The Western Gneiss Terrane is exposed along the western half of the northern margin of the Yilgarn Craton as the Narryer Gneiss Terrane, a composite of heavily polydeformed feldspathic metagranite and metasedimentary amphibolite-grade gneisses and migmatites, dated at greater than 3.3 Ga and up to 3.8 Ga in age, flanked by the Murgoo Gneiss Terrane (2.95 Ga) as well as sheets of 2.75 Ga to 2.6 Ga granite, obducted ophiolite sheets (the Trillbar Complex) and some 2.4 Ga to 2.0 Ga Proterozoic gneiss belts.

On the western edge of the Yilgarn Craton, partially covered by Phanerozoic sedimentary basins and in faulted contact with the 2.7 Ga to 2.55 Ga Yilgarn tectonic domains, lies the Jumperding Gneiss Complex of 2.75 to 2.65 Ga age, composed primarily of micaceous quartzite, quartz-feldspar-biotite-garnet gneiss, andalusite and sillimanite schists, banded iron formation and other exotics, intruded by minor masses of porphyritic granite.

Detrital zircons in the Jumperding Gneiss Complex range in age from 3267 +/- 30 Ma to 3341 +/- 100 Ma, with metamorphic overgrowth dated at 3180 +/- Ma.

On the southwest of the Yilgarn Craton the Balingup Gneiss Complex is situated inboard from the Early Proterozoic Leeuwin Complex of metamorphic rocks. The Balingup Complex consists primarily of metasedimentary paragneiss, granite orthogneiss, with minor layers of calc-silicate, ultramafic and ortho-amphibolite gneiss. The metamorphic grade is considered to be peak granulite facies, but the majority has preserved peak amphibolite facies assemblages.

In total, the Western Gneiss Terrane sub-blocks represent an earlier substrate upon which the majority of the Yilgarn Craton's c. 2.70 to 2.55 Ga greenstone metavolcanic belts have been deposited and into which the voluminous Archaean trondhjemite-tonalite-granodiorite (TTG) suite and trondhjemite-tonalite-diorite (TTD) suite granites were emplaced.

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