Li and δ7Li in mudrocks from the British Caledonides: Metamorphism and source influences

Lin Qiu, Roberta L. Rudnick, William F. McDonough, Richard J. Merriman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Citations (Scopus)


Mudrocks from three lower Paleozoic basins in the British Caledonides (southern Lake District, northern Lake District and Southern Uplands) were investigated to determine the influence of sub-greenschist facies metamorphism on Li and the factors that control Li in fine-grained terrigenous sedimentary rocks. Metamorphic grade, as determined by KI (Kübler index) does not correlate with Li content ([Li]) and δ7Li, indicating that sub-greenschist facies metamorphism has negligible effect on Li in these rocks. Collectively, the data for all three basins show a negative correlation between [Li] and δ7Li and a positive correlation between [Li] and the Chemical Index of Alteration (CIA), suggesting that provenance exerts the greatest control on Li in mudrocks. Samples from the northern Lake District, which were deposited in an extensional basin, have homogeneous REE patterns, similar to shale composites (PAAS), the highest CIA, Th/U and [Li] and the lowest δ7Li and εNd, consistent with their derivation from a highly weathered, ancient continental source. By contrast, mudrocks from the Southern Uplands range to the lowest CIA, Th/U and [Li] and have the highest δ7Li and εNd. These samples were deposited in a forearc basin on the southern margin of the Laurentian craton and contain volcanic detritus. Their REE patterns are the most variable, ranging from average shale-like patterns to less LREE-enriched patterns. The compositional heterogeneity within the Southern Uplands mudrocks is consistent with a mixed provenance that includes juvenile crustal materials (lower [Li], εNd and Th/U, higher δ7Li), likely derived from the arc, as well as more highly weathered continental detritus. Mudrocks from the southern Lake District were deposited in a foreland basin, and exhibit geochemical characteristics intermediate between the northern Lake District and the Southern Uplands mudrocks, indicating their derivation from a mixed source. Our study shows that Li concentrations and δ7Li can provide additional information on the degree of weathering of the provenance of mudrocks.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7325-7340
Number of pages16
JournalGeochimica et Cosmochimica Acta
Issue number24
Publication statusPublished - 2009 Dec 15


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