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Journal of African Earth Sciences 44 (2006) 8596 www.elsevier.


Provenance and tectonic setting of Late Proterozoic Buem sandstones of southeastern Ghana: Evidence from geochemistry and detrital modes
Shiloh Osae a, Daniel K. Asiedu b, Bruce Banoeng-Yakubo b, Christian Koeberl c,*, Samuel B. Dampare a

National Nuclear Research Institute, Ghana Atomic Energy Commission, P.O. Box LG 80, Legon-Accra, Ghana b Department of Geology, University of Ghana, P.O. Box LG 58, Legon-Accra, Ghana c Department of Geological Sciences, University of Vienna, Althanstrasse 14, A-1090 Vienna, Austria Received 8 September 2004; received in revised form 3 October 2005; accepted 30 November 2005 Available online 9 January 2006

Abstract The petrography, as well as major and trace element (including rare earth element) compositions of 10 sandstone samples from the Late Proterozoic Buem Structural Unit, southeast Ghana, have been investigated to determine their provenance and tectonic setting. The petrographic analysis has revealed that the sandstones are quartz-rich and were primarily derived from granitic and metamorphic basement rocks typical of a craton interior. The major and trace element compositions are comparable to average Proterozoic cratonic sandstones but with slight enrichment in high-eld strength elements (i.e., Zr, Hf, Ta, Nb) and slight depletion in ferromagnesian elements (e.g., Cr, Ni, V) with exception of Co which is unusually enriched in the sandstones. The geochemical data suggest that the Buem sandstones are dominated by mature, cratonic detritus deposited on a passive margin. Elemental ratios critical of provenance (La/Sc, Th/Sc, Cr/Th, Eu/Eu*, La/Lu) are similar to sediments derived from weathering of mostly felsic and not mac rocks. The rather high Eu/Eu* ratios (0.691.09) suggest weathering from mostly a granodiorite source rather than a granite source, consistent with a source from old upper continental crust. The granitoids of the Birimian Supergroup and/or the felsic gneisses of Birimian age exposed to the east and southeast of the Buem Formation appear the most likely source rocks. These results, therefore, support earlier studies that infer passive margin setting for the eastern margin of the West African Craton prior to the Pan-African orogeny. 2005 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Keywords: Ghana; Pan-African orogeny; Provenance; Sandstones; Petrography; Geochemistry

1. Introduction The chemical composition of clastic sedimentary rocks is a function of a complex interplay of several variables, including the nature of the source rocks, source area weathering and diagenesis (McLennan et al., 1993). However, the tectonic setting of the sedimentary basins has been considered as the overall primary control on the composition of sedimentary rocks (Dickinson, 1985). Plate tectonic processes impart distinctive petrological and geochemical sig-

Corresponding author. Tel.: +43 1 4277 53110; fax: +43 1 4277 9534. E-mail address: (C. Koeberl).

natures to sedimentary rocks in two distinct ways. Firstly, dierent tectonic environments have distinctive provenance characteristics and, secondly, they are characterized by distinctive sedimentary processes. Consequently sedimentary rocks have been used to constrain provenance and to identify ancient tectonic settings (e.g., Dickinson et al., 1983; Bhatia, 1983; McLennan et al., 1993). The geology of Ghana (Fig. 1) can generally be divided into four tectono-stratigraphic units: (1) an early Proterozoic basement rocks (i.e., the Birimian and Tarkwaian); (2) late Proterozoic to early Paleozoic sedimentary cover (i.e., the Voltaian Group); the basement rocks and the sedimentary cover form part of the West African craton; (3) mobile belt located in the eastern border of the craton

1464-343X/$ - see front matter 2005 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved. doi:10.1016/j.jafrearsci.2005.11.009


S. Osae et al. / Journal of African Earth Sciences 44 (2006) 8596

Fig. 1. Generalized tectono-stratigraphic map of Ghana.

which was developed during the Pan-African (around 600 Ma) orogeny (i.e., Dahomeyide Belt) and, (4) Late Paleozoic to Mesozoic sedimentary basins. The Dahomeyide belt consists, from west to east, three structural divisions (Fig. 2; Aaton et al., 1980): the Buem Unit, the Togo Series (= Akwapimian or Atacora Unit) and, the Dahomeyan Unit (or Benin Plain Unit). The Buem Structural Unit (BSU) is composed predominantly of intercalations of volcanics and sediments, and has been dated 624 Ma (Bozhko et al., 1971). A large part of the Dahomeyan Unit, however, appears to comprise Birimian rocks remobilized during the Pan African orogeny (Grant, 1969; Aaton et al., 1980; Agyei et al., 1987). The geotectonic setting of the BSU is disputed and various authors have given dierent interpretations: continental collision origin (e.g., Burke and Dewey, 1972, 1973), intracratonic origin (e.g., Cliord, 1972), continental rift origin (e.g., Attoh, 1990; Jones, 1990) and passive margin origin (e.g., Aaton et al., 1997). Most of these studies on the original tectonic setting of the BSU have mainly concentrated on the metavolcanic rocks (e.g., Aaton et al., 1997; Attoh and Morgan, 2004) while the associated sedimentary rocks which comprise the dominant unit have received less attention even though such rocks contain a wealth of information about provenance and tectonic setting (McLennan et al., 1990, 1993). As a contribution to this debate on the tectonic setting of the BSU, we have investigated the compositions of sandstones from the BSU exposed in the Anum, Kpando and surrounding areas of southeast Ghana (Fig. 2). This contribution will, therefore, examine the petrography and geochemistry of the

sandstones in order to infer their provenance and the tectonic setting of the BSU at the time of their deposition. 2. General geology of study area Four major lithologic facies can be distinguished in the BSU in the study area (Fig. 3): (a) clastic sediments, (b) limestone and jasperoids, (c) volcanic rocks, and (d) serpentinites. The clastic rocks form the uppermost and lowermost parts of the succession (Fig. 3). They comprise sandstones, ne-grained quartzites, siltsones, and red shales. The jasperoids are series of bedded, normally red cherts of massive appearance and sometimes brecciated. Some, however, may have formed by metasomatic alteration of the clastic sediments, limestone and volcanics (Junner, 1940; Jones, 1990). The serpentinites are schistose and massive in nature and rich in chromite. The volcanic rocks consist predominantly of basalts, hawaiites, mugearite, and trachytes. The volcanic and the sedimentary rocks are interstratied and, therefore, coeval. Jones (1990) suggested that the two igneous suites (i.e., volcanics and serpentinites) are unrelated; the volcanics were probably erupted during a period of tension related to continental breakup at about 650 Ma, whereas the serpentinites mark a continental collision at about 500 Ma. The sandstones tend to crop out in lens shaped bodies a few hundred meters to a few kilometers long. The lenticular shape of the sandstone bodies and paucity of sedimentary structures in the massive sandstones suggest their deposition as alluvial fan deposits (Jones, 1990). The associated

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Fig. 2. Geological map of the study area. The location of this area is shown in Fig. 1.

Fig. 3. Lithologic column of the BSU in the study area.

shales are red and contain desiccation cracks and ripple marks indicating shallow water or subaerial deposition. The clastic sediments are, therefore, of continental origin. The BSU is considered as a tectonic and metamorphic lateral equivalents of the middle part of the Voltaian Group that has been dated 620640 Ma (Grant, 1969; Aaton et al., 1980). However, K/Ar ages of three Buem volcanic specimens give a mean age of about 512 Ma (Jones, 1990), which is younger than the expected 650 Ma age for the deposition of the Buem Formation. Jones (1990) has suggested that this 500 Ma age coincide with metamorphic and metasomatic events that aected the Buem rocks after their deposition. Aaton et al. (1997), however, identied an earlier weak metamorphic imprint that is older than the Pan-African collision and may be coeval with the sedimentation age. This metamorphic imprint is marked by prehnitepumpellyite facies metamorphism developed under temperatures of 200300 C. The alteration products of this metasomatic event include: (1) alteration of the volcanics to sericite, chlorite and carbonates; (2) formation of epidote/quartz veins in the volcanics; (3) intrusion of quartz veins into the sandstones, and (4) development of jasper from a possible limestone precursor.


S. Osae et al. / Journal of African Earth Sciences 44 (2006) 8596

3. Sampling and methods Sandstone samples for this study were collected from outcrops in the Anum, Kpando, Nkonya and surrounding areas (Figs. 2 and 3). Fresh rock exposures were scarce due to intense tropical weathering. Ten of the least weathered samples were selected for petrographic and geochemical study. They include four quartzite and six feldspathic sandstone samples. The exact locations of the studied samples are given in Table 1. Thin-sectioned point counting of the sandstones was used for quantitative compositional analysis. The modal analysis was performed by counting more than 300 points per thin section, using the GazziDickinson point-counting method (Gazzi, 1966; Dickinson, 1970). This pointcounting method minimizes compositional dependence on grain size and, therefore, sandstones of dierent grain sizes can be compared (Ingersoll et al., 1984). Major and selected trace element (i.e., Rb, Sr, Y, Nb, Co, Ni, Cu, Zn, V, Cr, Ba) contents were determined on the 10 sandstone samples by X-ray uorescence spectrometry (XRF) using standard techniques (see Reimold et al., 1994; for details on procedure and accuracy). All other trace and rare earth elements were determined using instrumental neutron activation analysis (INAA). Instrumentation, sample preparation, data reduction techniques, and standards, precision and accuracy are described in Koeberl (1993). 4. Results 4.1. Petrography The analyzed sandstone samples are moderately to well sorted, and the feldspathic sandstones are medium-grained, whereas the quartzites are generally ne-grained. The framework grains of the sandstones are composed of monocrystalline quartz (Qm), polycrystalline quartz (Qp), K-feldspar, plagioclase, and rock fragments. Quartz dominates over feldspar and rock fragments (Table 1). Detrital

sandstones can be classied by their matrix content and mineralogical content (Okada, 1971; Folk, 1974). On the basis of their mineralogical contents, the Buem sandstones are classied as quartz arenite and feldspathic arenite (Fig. 4). The mean matrix content for the analyzed samples is 3 vol%. The matrix of the feldspathic arenites is generally composed of argillaceous materials (sericite and detrital clay) that are squashed between framework grains. Pseudomatrix as dened by Dickinson (1970) and representing altered malleable framework grains squashed between competent framework grains also occurs, but is generally rare. In contrast, the quartz arenites are typically cemented with quartz, hematite, and sericite. Quartz is the most abundant framework grain in the sandstones, constituting on average 87% of rock volume. The quartz grains are commonly sub-rounded to subangular in shape. Inclusions of chlorite and muscovite were observed in some thin-sections. Among quartz grains Qm (88 vol%) is dominant over Qp and most (ca. 60 vol%)

Fig. 4. Mineralogical classication of the Buem sandstones (elds after Okada, 1971). Q, Quartz; F, Feldspar; R, Rock fragments.

Table 1 Detrital modes from quartzites and feldspathic arenites of the Buem sandstones (in vol%) Sample Location coordinates
0 0





QFL (%) Q F 6.7 9.8 9.7 10.5 8.4 0.0 0.0 2.2 0.0 13.3 L 4.5 2.7 2.8 1.3 1.5 0.0 2.0 3.0 0.0 6.3

QmFLt (%) Qm 82.8 80.6 81.6 81.3 84.0 100.0 97.0 90.0 100.0 76.1 F 6.7 9.8 9.7 10.5 8.4 0.0 0.0 2.2 0.0 13.3 Lt 10.4 9.6 8.7 8.2 7.6 0.0 3.0 5.0 0.0 10.5

ANS16 BLS10 BLS01 KPS02 LMV10 LJ11 BMV15 BMV08 LT11 AS06

009.09 E 016.65 0 E 020.26 0 E 016.77 0 E 008.40 0 E 008.33 0 E 008.54 0 E 020.26 0 E 008.39 0 E 019.93 0 E

629.70 N 652.56 0 N 711.88 0 N 659.82 0 N 625.92 0 N 626.22 0 N 625.92 0 N 711.88 0 N 626.01 0 N 704.30 0 N

82.8 80.6 81.6 81.3 84.0 100.0 97.0 90.0 100.0 76.1

6.0 6.9 5.9 6.9 6.1 0.0 1.0 2.0 0.0 4.2

5.9 7.9 8.1 8.2 7.2 0.0 0.0 2.0 0.0 10.5

0.8 2.0 1.7 2.3 1.3 0.0 0.0 0.2 0.0 2.8

3.1 2.4 1.4 0.8 1.1 0.0 1.4 2.4 0.0 5.0

1.3 0.3 1.4 0.5 0.5 0.0 0.6 0.6 0.0 1.3

2.8 3.4 3.6 3.2 1.8 1.8 9.7 2.7 3.2 5.2

88.8 87.5 87.5 88.2 90.1 100.0 98.0 92.0 100.0 80.4

Qm = monocrystalline quartz; Qp = polycrystalline quartz; K = K-feldspar; P = plagioclase; Ls = sedimentary lithic fragments; Lm = metamorphic lithic fragments; M = matrix; F = K + P; L = Ls + Lm; Lt = Qp + Ls + Lm.

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Qm has non-undulose extinction. Qp grains are composed mainly of non-oriented crystallites, commonly two or three per grain, with straight to undulose extinction. All the analyzed feldspathic sandstone samples contain minor amounts of feldspar (F) grains (on average 10 vol%). In contrast, the quartz arenites (i.e., quartzites) lack feldspar. Feldspar grains are subangular and clear of inclusions. K-feldspar (K) dominates over plagioclase (K/F  0.88) and is mostly orthoclase and microperthite, and fewer microcline and sanidine grains. Plagioclase grains show well-developed polysynthetic twinning. The rock fragments are comparatively less abundant, and are dominantly of sedimentary and subordinately metamorphic origin. Compositionally, the most abundant types of lithic fragments are microcrystalline chert, quartzose sandstone, and argillites. A limited range of heavy minerals was observed in thinsection. The most common is zircon, which mostly occurs as silt-sized (<0.0625 mm) well-rounded grains. Other heavy minerals species observed in thin-section include tourmaline, garnet and rutile. 4.2. Geochemistry The Buem sandstones (i.e., both feldspathic arenite and quartz arenite) have SiO2 contents between 89 and 96 wt% (i.e., quartz-rich following the criteria of Crook, 1974). The quartz arenites are depleted of K2O and TiO2 but enriched in Fe2O3 as compared to the feldspathic arenites (Table 2). Depletion of Na2O (<1 wt%) in both groups of sandstones can be attributed to the relatively small amount of Na-rich plagioclase present, as shown by the petrographical data. K2O and Na2O contents and their ratios (K2O/Na2O  1) are also consistent with the petrographic observations, according to which K-feldspar dominates over plagioclase feldspar. Using the geochemical classication diagram of Herron (1988), the Buem feldspathic arenites are classied as subarkose and sublitharenite (Fig. 5). In comparison with average upper continental crust (UCC) the concentrations of most trace elements are generally low with exception of Co that is consistently enriched relative to UCC for all the analyzed samples. The trace element abundances are, however, comparable to average Proterozoic cratonic sandstones (PSS) but with slight enrichment in high-eld strength elements (Zr, Hf, Ta, Nb) and slight depletion in ferromagnesian elements with exception of Co, which are of several orders enriched in the Buem sandstones (Fig. 6a). All the analyzed samples display LREE enrichment relative to HREE with at to slightly depleted HREE patterns and variable but mostly negative Eu-anomalies (Fig. 6b). In general, the Buem sandstones have similar chondrite-normalized REE patterns similar to those of PSS although most of the analyzed samples are depleted in REE abundances relative to PSS due to quartz dilution (Fig. 6b).

5. Provenance 5.1. Source-area weathering Alteration of igneous rocks during weathering results in depletion of alkali and alkaline earth elements and preferential enrichment of Al2O3 in sediments. Therefore, the weathering history of ancient sedimentary rocks can be evaluated in part by examining relationships among the alkali and alkaline earth elements (Nesbitt and Young, 1982). A good measure of the degree of chemical weathering can be obtained by calculation of the Chemical Index of Alteration (CIA; Nesbitt and Young, 1982) and Plagioclase Index of Alteration (PIA; Fedo et al., 1995). High CIA and PIA values (i.e., 75100) indicate intensive weathering in the source area whereas low values (i.e., 60 or less) indicate low weathering in source area. CIA and PIA values for the Buem sandstones are highly variable (i.e., 3597), particularly for the quartz arenites (Table 1). The high variations in CIA and PIA values may, however, be due to the low concentrations (sometimes below or ear detection limits) of the alkalis and alkaline earth elements (Table 1) rather than variable degrees of source area weathering. Nevertheless, majority of the samples have CIA and PIA values greater than 60 indicating moderate to high weathering conditions in the source area. 5.2. Tectonic setting The main assumption behind sandstone provenance studies is that dierent tectonic settings contain characteristic rock types which, when eroded, produce sandstones with specic compositional ranges (Dickinson, 1985). The analysis of sandstones with known provenance has been used to dene these ranges from which the provenance of other samples can be deduced. Dickinson and co-workers have related detrital sandstone compositions to major provenance types such as stable cratons, basement uplifts, magmatic arcs and recycled orogens (Dickinson and Suczek, 1979; Dickinson et al., 1983). In the QFL and QmFLt ternary diagrams of Dickinson et al. (1983) the analyzed samples plot exclusively in the craton interior eld (Fig. 7). As pointed out by Dickinson et al. (1983), sandstones plotting in this eld are mature sandstones derived from relatively low-lying granitoid and gneissic sources, supplemented by recycled sands from associated platform or passive margin basins. Various workers (e.g., Bhatia, 1983; Roser and Korsch, 1986; McLennan et al., 1990) have used the chemical compositions of sandstones to discriminate tectonic settings. Three tectonic settingspassive continental margin (PM), active continental margin (ACM) and oceanic island-arc (ARC)are recognized on the K2O/Na2OSiO2 discrimination diagram of Roser and Korsch (1986). The elds are based on ancient sandstone-mudstone pairs, veried against modern sediments from known tectonic settings. On this diagram (Fig. 8), the Buem sandstones plot


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Table 2 Chemical compositions of sandstones from the Buem Formation Feldspathic arenite ANS16 wt% SiO2 TiO2 Al2O3 Fe2O3 MnO MgO CaO Na2O K2O P2O5 LOI Total CIA PIA ppm Sc V Cr Co Ni Cu Zn Rb Sr Ba Cs Y Zr Nb Hf Ta Th U La Ce Nd Sm Eu Gd Tb Tm Yb Lu 93.22 0.11 2.99 0.69 0.00 0.08 0.07 0.05 0.31 0.03 1.40 98.96 84 92 1.45 19 30 163 <6 7 17 16 18 75 0.38 6 109 9 2.32 0.76 1.42 < 0.5 9.90 14.3 5.12 0.80 0.29 0.82 0.13 0.07 0.46 0.07 BLS10 94.29 0.12 2.78 0.33 0.01 0.02 0.03 0.08 1.07 0.04 0.83 99.60 67 90 1.23 13 25 282 <6 8 13 33 29 254 0.5 7 165 10 4.25 1.47 2.24 0.38 13.8 21.7 10.1 1.87 0.42 1.36 0.21 0.13 0.68 0.10 BLS01 94.72 0.11 2.81 0.27 0.00 0.02 0.06 0.09 1.01 0.05 0.98 100.13 67 87 1.14 < 12 19 231 <6 7 13 34 32 253 0.46 8 165 11 4.25 0.91 2.08 < 0.1 13.8 22.40 10.3 1.89 0.44 1.48 0.23 0.13 0.71 0.11 KPS02 95.91 0.12 2.10 0.55 0.00 0.00 0.07 0.36 0.86 0.02 0.62 100.61 56 62 1.01 < 12 32 109 <6 7 11 30 16 228 0.6 7 166 10 4.92 0.62 2.28 < 0.6 7.26 13.40 5.91 1.03 0.20 1.01 0.18 0.10 0.73 0.11 LMV10 94.51 0.07 1.85 0.51 0.03 0.21 0.08 0.31 0.54 0.02 0.63 98.77 60 66 0.97 17 24 242 <6 18 15.5 20 25 374 0.54 6 79 7 1.79 1.26 1.49 0.54 5.11 9.50 3.64 0.73 0.20 0.70 0.12 0.06 0.35 0.05 ASO6 89.41 0.21 4.82 1.40 0.02 0.29 0.09 0.19 1.13 0.03 1.46 99.05 74 88 Quartz arenite LJ11 94.52 0.01 0.20 3.34 0.02 0.08 0.11 0.05 0.00 0.01 0.44 98.79 97 97 0.32 26 19 264 <6 9 8.57 3 10 251 0.38 4 17 6 0.22 1.22 0.09 0.2 1.15 2.05 0.80 0.18 0.04 0.10 0.02 0.01 0.06 0.01 BMV15 87.13 0.09 3.65 4.85 0.11 1.09 0.06 0.01 0.00 0.04 2.03 99.06 76 76 3.66 53 21 80 47 47 70.8 4 7 40 0.22 9 36 6 1.00 0.50 1.94 1.02 6.21 10.8 4.22 1.15 0.31 1.00 0.17 0.10 0.61 0.09 BMV08 91.49 0.05 1.57 5.14 0.02 0.09 0.05 0.24 0.00 0.03 0.36 99.04 35 35 LT11 92.53 0.01 0.17 5.56 0.35 0.05 0.13 0.05 0.00 0.02 0.61 99.48 60 64

39 47 62 11 10 20 48 20 398 8 112 9

63 28 140 <6 6 29 5 27 72 6 17 4

42 55 155 18 11 13 3 22 1298 4 17 5

Chemical Index of alteration (CIA, Nesbitt and Young, 1982) and plagioclase index of alteration (PIA, Fedo et al., 1995) calculated following the procedure given in Fedo et al. (1995).

exclusively in the PM eld. According to Roser and Korsch (1986), PM sediments are largely quartz-rich sediments derived from plate interiors or stable continental areas and deposited in intra-cratonic basins or on passive continental margins. The Buem sandstones show the following chemical characteristics: relatively uniform compositions, evolved major element compositions (e.g., high SiO2/Al2O3, K2O/Na2O; Table 2), enrichments of normally incompatible over compatible elements (e.g., LREE enrichment, high Th/Sc, La/ Sc; Fig. 6a, Table 2), and high Rb/Sr ratios (>0.5). This

suggests that the Buem sandstones are derived from old upper continental crust (McLennan et al., 1990). According to McLennan et al. (1990) this provenance component constitutes old stable cratons and old continental foundations of active tectonic settings. The volcanic rocks that are associated with the Buem sandstones show strong alkali anities (Jones, 1990; Osae, unpublished data), and a continental rift setting is inferred for their emplacement (Attoh, 1990; Jones, 1990). However, a continental rift setting would produce immature clastic sediments resulting from rapid transportation and

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Fig. 5. Chemical classication of the Buem feldspathic arenites (elds after Herron, 1988).

burial, so as to preserve feldspar, particularly plagioclase. A continental rift setting should, therefore, have resulted in the associated sandstones plotting in the basement uplift eld (Fig. 7), and within the ACM eld in the K2O/Na2O SiO2 diagram (Fig. 8). A continental rift setting, therefore, is not consistent with the petrographic and geochemical compositions of the sandstones. A passive margin or cratonic setting would be the most likely tectonic environment for the coeval volcanic and sedimentary activities. Alkaline igneous rocks, such as trachytes and phonolites, are not restricted to continental rifts but are also known to occur in cratons and oceanic islands (Condie, 1997). Also, a continental collision setting for the Buem Formation suggested as by Burke and Dewey (1972, 1973) is not compatible with the compositions of the sandstones since such a setting would have resulted in their plotting in the recycled orogen eld (Fig. 7) and ACM eld (Fig. 8). The compositions of the sandstones, however, are in agreement with other interpretations that suggest cratonic origin (Cliord, 1972) and passive margin origin (Aaton, 1990; Aaton et al., 1997) for the BSU. 5.3. Provenance The qualitative petrography provides important information on the nature of the source area. The high proportion of quartz (and quartzose lithic fragments), as well as the dominance of K-feldspar over the more chemically unstable plagioclase in the Buem sandstones suggests that the source was exposed to prolonged weathering and that the sediment is at least partly multicyclic. This mineralogy is consistent with their derivation from granitic or acidic high-grade metamorphic rocks. However, the presence of rare rounded detrital quartz grains, sedimentary lithic fragments, such as quartz arenite, and rounded grains of zircon and tourmaline, suggest that a component of the provenance is older (pre-existing) sedimentary rocks. All the studied samples contain both strained and unstrained quartz grains. Although the strained quartz could in part be due to the post-depositional eects of folding and metamorphism, the occurrence of both strain and unstrained quartz in suggest that some of the strain was inherited from the source area and, therefore, suggest a metamorphic and/ or plutonic source for the quartz grains (Young, 1976). This interpretation is compatible with granitic and/or metamorphic sources, adding weight to the interpretation that the Buem sandstones were derived from continental basement. Discriminant function analysis using major element compositions is another method for determining the provenance of sandstones (Roser and Korsch, 1988). The discriminant functions of Roser and Korsch (1988) were designed to discriminate between four sedimentary provenance elds. These are: mac (P1); intermediate (P2); felsic (P3); and recycled (P4). On this diagram, the Buem sandstones plot in the P4 eld (Fig. 9), supporting the interpretation that they were derived from granitic-gneissic or

Fig. 6a. Distribution of high eld strength elements, REE and ferromagnesian elements in sandstones from the Buem Formation. Data are normalized to average Proterozoic cratonic sandstone from Condie (1993). Data for Upper Continental Crust are from Condie (1993).

Fig. 6b. Chondrite-normalized REE patterns in sandstones from the Buem Formation. Normalizing values Taylor and McLennan (1985). Data for average Proterozoic sandstone after Condie (1993).


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Fig. 7. QFL and QmFLt plots. (a) and (c) Provenance elds of Dickinson et al. (1983). (b) and (d) sandstones from the Buem Formation. Denitions are given in Table 1.

Fig. 8. Provenance discrimination diagrams of Roser and Korsch (1986) with sandstones from Buem Formation. Data for average Proterozoic sandstone are from Condie (1993). ARC, volcanic island arc; ACM, active continental margin; PM, passive margin.

Fig. 9. Provenance discrimination diagram of Roser and Korsch (1988) with sandstones (lled circles) from the BSU. Also plotted for comparison are Upper Continental Crust (open circle) and average Proterozoic sandstone (open square); Data from Condie (1993).

sedimentary source area, similar to PM-derived (Roser and Korsch, 1988). The felsic and recycled source rocks for the Buem sandstones is further supported by their high Th/Sc and Zr/Sc ratios respectively (Fig. 10).

The REE, Th and Sc are generally accepted as among the most reliable indicators of sediment provenance because their distribution is less aected by heavy-mineral fractionation than that of elements such as Zr, Hf, and Sn (Cullers

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Fig. 10. Plot of Th/Sc versus Zr/Sc for sandstones from the BSU (after McLennan et al., 1993). The sandstones are enriched in zircon, due to sedimentary sorting and recycling. Average source rock compositions are of Proterozoic age (after Condie, 1993). BAS, basalt; AND, andesite; FVO, felsic volcanics; GRA, granite; TTG, tonalitetrondhjemitegranodiorite; PSS, Proterozoic sandstone (Condie, 1993).

et al., 1979; Taylor and McLennan, 1985). The REE and Th abundances are higher in felsic igneous rocks and in their weathering products, whereas Co, Sc, Ni, and Cr are more concentrated in mac than in felsic igneous rocks. The low concentrations of ferromagnesian trace elements such as Cr, Ni, Sc and V in the Buem sandstones (Table 2; Fig. 6a) indicate that very minimal mac rocks were exposed in the source area. The unusual Co enrichment with respect to average upper continental crust (Table 2) may suggest some input of mac materials from the source terrane; however, the simultaneous depletion of Cr, Ni, and V suggests that other factors such as post-depositional alterations might have played a role in concentrating Ni in the sandstones. Furthermore, ratios such Eu/Eu*, (La/Lu)N, La/Sc, Th/Sc, and Cr/Th are signicantly dierent in mac and felsic source rocks and can, therefore, provide information about the provenance of sedimentary rocks (AmstrongAltrin et al., 2004). The Eu/Eu*, (La/Lu)N, La/Sc, Th/Sc, and Cr/Th ratios of the Buem sandstones are similar to those for sediments derived from felsic source rocks than those for mac source rocks (Table 3). The general lack of signicant Eu-anomaly (average Eu/Eu* = 0.8) and at

HREE patterns implies a granodiorite rather than a granite source (Condie, 1993; Cullers and Podkovyrov, 2000). However, the appreciably high Eu/Eu* values and the overall at HREEs may suggest a component of mac volcanic rocks (Fedo et al., 1996). The petrological and geochemical data indicate that the Buem sandstones were predominantly derived from a felsic igneous source with a component from pre-existing sedimentary source. To assess possible sources based on the above, we attempt to quantitatively model the provenance using selected three source end member components, i.e., Upper Proterozoic crust (UPC), felsic plutonic rocks (PG) and mac-intermediate volcanic rocks. For the UPC end member we use the average of 24 Birimian metagraywackes and phyllites from Asiedu et al. (2004) to represent the upper crustal composition at the time of deposition of the Buem sandstones. Granitoids and granitic gneisses of Eburnean age (Ho gneiss; Agyei et al., 1987) are a potential source for the Buem Sandstones and, therefore, ideal for the PG end-member. However, the chemical analyses for these felsic plutonic rocks are not available so we use the average of ve Birimian granitoid samples from the Ashanti greenstone belt (Kutu, unpublished data) to represent the PG end member. We use the average of four Buem volcanics samples from the Kpando area (Osae, unpublished data) to represent the mac-intermediate end member. We apply the modeling method of Fedo et al. (1996) that attempt to conserve mass balance amongst the relatively immobile REEs and in the Th/Sc ratio, which is a sensitive index of bulk composition (Taylor and McLennan, 1985). Parameters and results of the mixing calculations are shown in Table 4. Using the source compositions listed in Table 4, average Buem feldsphatic arenite can be represented by a mixture of 30% Birimian granitoids, 20% Birimian metasediments, and 50% Buem volcanics, whereas the average Buem quartz arenite can be represented by 98% Birimian granitoids and 2% Buem volcanics. The modeled chondritenormalized REE patterns for both the feldspathic and quartz arenites are near identical to their respective average Buem sandstone (Fig. 11) but with higher REE abundances obviously due to quartz dilution.

Table 3 Range of elemental ratios of Buem sandstones compared to the ratios in average Proterozoic sandstones, upper continental crust and sandstones derived from felsic rocks and mac rocks Elemental ratio La/Sc Th/Sc Cr/Th Eu/Eu* (La/Lu)N
a b c

Range of Buem sandstonesa 1.7012.1 0.531.82 5.7421.1 0.601.09 6.8514.7

Range of sediments from felsic sourcesb 2.5016.3 0.8420.5 4.0015.0 0.400.94 3.0027.0

Range of sediments from mac sourcesb 0.430.86 0.050.22 25.0500 0.710.95 1.107.00

Average Proterozoic sandstonesc 4.21 1.75 5.71 0.67 8.07

Upper Continental Crust (1.60.8 Ga)c 1.91 0.71 4.46 0.59 7.21

This study; Sample LJ11 is excluded because the concentrations of Sc and Th are near detection limits. Amstrong-Altrin et al. (2004). Condie (1993); Subscript N denotes chondrite-normalized value.


Table 4 Results from mixing calculations Element Average Buem Feldspathic arenite Quartz arenite Mixing end members Birimian granitoidsa Birimian metasedimentsb Buem volcanics

Mixing results Feldspathic arenite 30:20:50 Quartz arenite 98:0:2 N 224.6 170.0 89.01 51.69 31.17 35.54 28.26 24.11 22.37 3.96 1.80 9.50 0.79 1.60 ppm 16.13 36.88 15.24 2.87 0.75 2.47 0.39 0.20 1.31 0.21 N 43.95 38.54 21.44 12.44 8.61 8.08 6.66 5.65 5.28 5.55 3.40 1.56 8.16 0.88 0.53

S. Osae et al. / Journal of African Earth Sciences 44 (2006) 8596

ppm La Ce Nd Sm Eu Gd Tb Tm Yb Lu (La/Sm)N (Gd/Yb)N (La/Yb)N Eu/Eu* Th/Sc 9.97 16.26 7.01 1.26 0.31 1.07 0.17 0.10 0.59 0.09

N 27.18 16.99 9.86 5.47 3.56 3.51 3.00 2.75 2.36 2.32 4.97 1.49 11.50 0.81 1.64

ppm 3.68 6.43 2.51 0.67 0.18 0.55 0.10 0.06 0.34 0.05

N 10.03 6.71 3.53 2.88 2.01 1.80 1.64 1.54 1.35 1.31 3.48 1.33 7.42 0.88 0.51

ppm 13.46 31.78 13.29 2.51 0.67 2.15 0.34 0.17 1.12 0.19

N 36.67 33.20 18.69 10.87 7.73 7.03 5.82 4.71 4.51 4.86 3.37 1.56 8.14 0.88 0.49

ppm 23.69 49.11 19.01 4.46 1.31 4.26 0.69 1.36 0.20

N 65.95 50.51 26.74 18.65 15.10 17.25 13.15 5.42 5.18 3.54 3.18 12.17 0.84 0.28

ppm 147.2 287.1 111.0 20.65 4.50 18.35 2.77 1.86 10.75 1.52

N 401.0 300.0 156.1 89.39 51.67 59.97 47.76 52.11 43.35 39.76 4.49 1.38 9.25 0.71 2.79

ppm 82.35 162.9 63.29 11.97 2.71 10.67 1.62 5.98 0.85

N denotes chondrite-normalized value. a Kutu (unpublished). b Asiedu et al. (2004). c Osae et al. (unpublished).

S. Osae et al. / Journal of African Earth Sciences 44 (2006) 8596


Fig. 11. Results from mixing calculations for the REEs of the Buem feldspathic arenite (FAx:y:z) and quartz arenite (QAx:y:z) plotted with average Buem feldspathic arenite (FA) and quartz arenite (QA). See Table for mixing parameters.

6. Conclusions The provenance of the Buem sandstones of southeastern Ghana has been assessed using integrated petrographical and geochemical studies, the results which are broadly in agreement. This approach has revealed that the Buem sandstones were primarily derived from felsic continental sources typical of a craton interior. The provenance characteristics suggest that the Buem sandstones were deposited on a passive margin that received large amounts of mature detritus from the hinterland areas. This interpretation is in agreement with paleomagnetic data that do not support large-scale relative plate motions within Africa in ProterozoicPaleozoic time (Piper et al., 1973). Based on Th/Sc ratios and REE patterns, the feldsphatic arenites of Buem sandstones can be modeled by a mixture of 30% Birimian granitoids, 20% Birimian metasediments, and 50% Buem volcanics, and the quartz arenite by 98% Birimian granitoids and 2% Buem volcanics. Acknowledgements The NAA analyses were carried out by the rst author (S. Osae) at the University of Vienna, during a fellowship program that was sponsored by the International Atomic Energy Agency. Mr. B. Bodiselitsch (Univ. Vienna) helped with the analyses. Laboratory work in Vienna was also supported by the Austrian Science Foundation FWF (project P17194-N10). We are grateful for the constructive reviews by K. Attoh, C.I. Chalokwu, and B.P. Roser, as well as for editorial comments by P. Eriksson, which helped to improve the manuscript. References
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