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Timing of post–Karoo alkaline volcanism in southern Namibia

  • D. L. Reid (a1), A. F. Cooper (a2), D. C. Rex (a3) and R. E. Harmer (a4)

New radiometric age data are reported for alkaline centres in southern Namibia, and are discussed together with published age data in terms of models put forward to account for post-Karoo (Mesozoic–Recent) alkaline magmatism within the African plate. Agreement between K–Ar and Rb–Sr ages indicate emplacement of the Dicker Willem carbonatite in southern Namibia at 49 ± 1 Ma. Alkaline rocks associated with the Gross Brukkaros volcano show a discordant radiometric age pattern, but the best estimate for the age of this complex is 77 ± 2 Ma, similar to that obtained for the neighbouring Gibeon carbonatite-kimberlite province. The Dicker Willem carbonatite is therefore younger than the Luderitz alkaline province (133 ± 2 Ma), and the Gross Brukkaros volcano, but is older than the Klinghardt phonolite field (29–37 Ma). The new age data argue against a distinct periodicity in alkaline igneous activity in southern Africa, thereby ruling out possible controls by episodic marginal upwarping of the subcontinent. Although the available age data do not appear to be consistent with the passage of one or even two hotspots under southern Namibia, it is argued that the surface expression of hotspots under continents may be so large and overlapping that within-plate magmatism attributed to these thermal anomalies need not necessarily be confined to narrow linear belts or show an age progression. The role of hotspots in continental alkaline magmatism is most likely one of melt generation, while local crustal structure probably controls the distribution and timing of eruption. Major tectonic boundaries in the Precambrian basement underlying southern Namibia seem to have controlled the development of Tertiary alkaline centres in that region.

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