Age, Nd-Hf isotopes, and geochemistry of the Vijayan Complex of eastern and southern Sri Lanka : A Grenville-age magmatic arc of unknown derivation


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The ca. 1.0-1.1 Ga Vijayan Complex (VC) of eastern and southeastern Sri Lanka is one of three high-grade metamorphic terranes making up the basement of the island and is in tectonic contact with the adjacent, older Highland Complex. It consists predominantly of granitoid gneisses ranging in composition from diorite to leucogranite, with a distinct calc-alkaline geochemical signature, and is interpreted as a magmatic arc. Strong ductile deformation has obliterated almost all original intrusive relationships. High-grade metamorphism during the Pan-African event at ca. 610-520. Ma has produced widespread granulite-facies assemblages that are now largely retrogressed and were affected by extensive late metamorphic K-metasomatism. In southern Sri Lanka the Vijayan gneisses are tectonically interlayered with rocks of the Highland Complex in a so-called mixed zone. We report zircon ages, whole-rock Nd and Hf-in-zircon isotopic systematics and geochemical data for a large selection of Vijayan gneissses in order to better characterize this complex and its tectonic setting. The zircon ages are predominantly in the range 1100-1000. Ma with a few early Neoproterozoic intrusions, and identify the VC as a Grenville-age magmatic arc. Many zircons experienced minor to significant lead-loss at about 580. Ma. The Nd and Hf isotopic data confirm a generally primitive origin for most Vijayan gneisses, but significant variations in both isotopic systems argue for source heterogeneities and the possible involvement of minor amounts of older continental material in their genesis. Immobile trace and rare earth element distributions favour an origin of the gneiss protoliths through melting at relatively shallow depth, and the chemical variation from diorite and tonalite via granodiorite to granite in the VC can be explained by increasing fractionation of plagioclase and biotite, accompanied by amphibole and accessory phases. The VC may be comparable, in some respect, to the composition and evolution of the Kohistan Arc in Pakistan. The unique composition, age and isotopic characteristics of the VC find no convincing counterpart in other fragments of the Gondwana supercontinent, and its origin therefore remains exotic and enigmatic.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)288-321
Number of pages34
JournalPrecambrian Research
Early online date16 Nov 2012
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Grenville
  • Nd-Hf isotopes
  • Sri Lanka
  • Vijayan
  • Zircon age

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