We present a study on major and trace element geochemistry of some intermediate lithologies from the predominantly basaltic Tibbit Hill volcanic suite in the Humber Zone of the Quebec Appalachians. The intermediate rocks probably formed as lava flows in the volcanic sequence. Their presence shows that this rift-related, c. 554 Ma volcanic sequence is not bimodal (basaltic-comenditic) as previously thought, but consists of a spectrum of compositions ranging from mafic through intermediate to felsic lithologies. The entire volcanic sequence is poly-deformed and generally metamorphosed to greenschist facies conditions.
The intermediate rocks of the Tibbit Hill Formation are trachyandesitic, trachytic and comenditic in composition, and exhibit a wide range of SiO2 content (52 to 68 wt.%). Mg is highly depleted in most samples. Variations of silica versus the alkalis show that most of the samples are alkaline in nature. The rocks display a tholeiitic trend on a standard AFM diagram.
In general, the examined rocks also exhibit a wide range of Sr (15 to 174 ppm), Rb (0 to 156 ppm), Zr (155 to 899 ppm), Nb (18 to 123 ppm), and Y (18 to 94 ppm). The concentration of Hf and Ta are generally low (6.6–14.8 ppm, and 3.3–6.6 ppm, respectively), compared to those of Zr and Nb. Nevertheless, these rocks contain relatively high concentrations of the HFS elements, thus reflecting an enriched source. The suite is also relatively enriched in the rare earth elements (REE), and exhibits fractionated, subparallel REE pattems; the latter are generally uniform and conformable.
Chemical features of these volcanic rocks are typical of those of anorogenic A1 type suites, related to hotspots, mantle plumes, or continental rift zones. This is consistent with earlier interpretation of volcanism associated with an Iapetan RRR triple junction, occurring shortly before the onset of seafloor spreading. At that stage of crustal evolution, alkaline to transitional basaltic magma pierced into the crust, and experienced fractionation to produce the liquids of intermediate composition. Rare earth element geochemical modelling supports the hypothesis that the most evolved composition for which REE data are available (comendite; 67.9 wt.% SiO2) was produced by 20% fractional crystallization of the least evolved trachyandesite (56.7 wt.% SiO2) of this intermediate volcanic assemblage.