Review: the charnockite problem, a twenty first century perspective
Samarendra Bhattacharya
DOI: 10.4236/ns.2010.24049   PDF    HTML     7,327 Downloads   16,188 Views   Citations


Beginning of the twentieth century was marked by coinage of a new rock name, Charnockite, first described as a hypersthene-bearing granite from Southern India. Since then charnockites have been described from most of the conti-nents and mostly restricted to high-grade belts. Later half of the last century saw a lively debate over an igneous versus metamorphic origin. However, two factors acted as deterrents for the resolution of the debate. First, charnockites and associated rocks occur in a variety of different structural setting and display diverse field rela-tions, attesting to possible different mode of origin. Second and possibly more important is the lack of consensus on the nomenclature of charnockites and associated rocks and this is commonly linked with the metamorphic versus magmatic perspective. Scanning the literature of this period makes one believe that both metamorphic and magmatic hypotheses are valid, but applicable to different field setting only. Before critically evaluating individual cases, it is imperative that a uniform approach in nomenclature should be agreed upon. It is proposed that name charnockite be adopted for any quartzofeldspathic rock with orthopyroxene, irrespective of its mode of occurrence, struc-tural setting and mode of origin. The associated more mafic varieties, be better described as mafic granulite, rather than basic charnockite. For the patchy charnockites of east Gondwana (including parts of Peninsular India, Sri Lanka and Antarctica), metamorphic transformation from amphibolite facies gneiss, by two different mechanisms: CO2 ingress from deep level, and drop in fluid pressure, has been proposed. However, all such patchy occurrence is not amenable to explanation by metamorphic trans- formation. In some instances, migmatisation of older charnockitic rocks is evident. Also pro- gressive charnockitisation relating patchy char-nockite to banded variety could be argued against on two counts: grain-size relation and time-relation. Larger bodies or bands have been explained as magmatic, but in many instances, from geochemical consideration alone. The compositional variation, commonly encoun-tered in many high-grade belts, if not described in terms of field relation, may lead to wrong no-tions of magmatic differentiation of mantle-de- rived melts. Crustal melting of dry granulite fa-cies source rocks has been proposed from geochemical and isotopic data of charnockitic intrusions. This model proposes high-tempera-ture melting of previously dehydrated and dry granulite source rocks. However, tectonic per-turbation subsequent to granulite facies meta-morphism that might have been responsible for such high temperatures, is not well constrained in this model. Finally, with advent of high- pressure dehydration-melting experiments in the nineties, dehydration-melting of mafic to intermediate composition, syn-kinematic with granulite facies metamorphism has been pro-posed.

Share and Cite:

Bhattacharya, S. (2010) Review: the charnockite problem, a twenty first century perspective. Natural Science, 2, 402-408. doi: 10.4236/ns.2010.24049.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


[1] Holland, T.H. (1900) The charnockite series, a group of Archaean hypersthenic rocks in Peninsular India. Mem-oirs of the Geological Survey of India, 28, 119-249.
[2] Howie, R.A. (1954) The geochemistry of the charnockite series of Madras, India. Transactions of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, 62, 725-768.
[3] De Ward, D. (1969) The occurrence of charnockite in the Adirondacks: A note on the origin and definition of char-nockite. American Journal of Science, 267, 983-987.
[4] Duchesne, J.C., Caruba, R. and Iacconi, P. (1987) Zircon in charnockitic rocks from Rogaland (Southwest Nor-way): Petrogenetic implication. Lithos, 20(5), 357-368.
[5] Condie, K.C. and Allen, P. (1984) Origin of Archaean charnockites from southern India. In: Kroner, A., ed., Archaean Geochemistry, Springer, Berlin, 182-203.
[6] Hubbard, F.H. and Whitley, J.E. (1979) REE in char-nockite and associated rocks, southwest Sweden. Lithos, 12(1), 1-11.
[7] Kilpatrick, J.A., Ellis, D.J. and Young, D.N. (1990) Field aspects of the Ardery charnockitic intrusions, Windmill Islands, Antarctica. A dynamic magma chamber. Geo-logical Society of Australia Abstracts, 25, 290.
[8] Sheraton, J.W. (1982) Origin of charnockitic rocks of MacRobertson Land. In. Craddock, C., ed., Antarctic Geoscience, Madison University of Wisconsin Press, 489-497.
[9] Schumacher, R. and Faulhaber, S. (1994) Summary and discussion of P-T estimates from garnet-pyroxene-pla- gioclase-quartz-bearing granulite facies rocks from Sri Lanka. Precambrian Research, 66(1-4), 295-308.
[10] Pichamuthu, C.S. (1960) Charnockite in the making. Nature, 188, 135-136.
[11] Ravich, M.G. (1972) The charnockite problem. In. Adie, R. J., ed., Antarctic Geology and Geophysics, Scandina-vian University Books, Oslo, 523-526.
[12] Raith, M and Srikantappa, C. (1993) Arrested char-nockite formation at Kottavattam, southern India. Jour-nal of Metamorphic Geology, 11, 815-832.
[13] Dobmeier, C. and Raith, M. (2000) On the origin of “ar-rested” charnokitization in the Chilka Lake area, Eastern Ghats Belt, India: A reappraisal. Geological Magazine, 137, 27-37.
[14] Bhattacharya, S., Sen, S.K. and Acharyya, A. (1993) Structural evidence supporting a remnant origin of patchy charnockites in the Chilka Lake area, India. Geo-logical Magazine, 130(3), 363-368.
[15] Newton, R. C. (1992) Charnockitic alteration: Evidence for CO2 infiltration in granulite facies metamorphism. Journal of Metamorphic Geology, 10, 383-400.
[16] Sen, S.K. and Bhattacharya, S. (1993) Patchy char-nockites from south Kerala-nascent growths or modified relicts? Indian Minerals, 47, 103-112.
[17] Bhattacharya, S. and Sen, S.K. (2000) New insights into the origin of Kabbaldurga charnockites, Karnataka, South India. Gondwana Research, 3, 489-506.
[18] Rao, A.T. and Vijaykumar, V. (1992) Chemical petrology of charnockites from the Eastern Ghats granulite prov-ince, India. In: Kyriakidis, A.B., ed., High Grade Meta-morphics, Theophrastus Publications, 217-235.
[19] Prasad, K.S.S., Rao, K.L.N. and Murty, M.S. (1992) Charnockites of Obachettapalem, Prakasam district, South India. In: Kyriakidis, A.B., ed., High Grade Meta-morphics, Theophrastus Publications, 237-261.
[20] Young, D.N., Zhao, J.X., Ellis, D.J. and McCulloch, M.T., (1997) Geochemical and Sr-Nd isotopic mapping of source provinces for the Mawson charnockites, east Ant-arctica: implications for Proterozoic tectonics and Gondwana reconstruction. Precambrian Research, 86, 1-19.
[21] Santosh, M., Yokoyama, K. and Acharyya, S.K. (2004) Geochronology and tectonic evolution of Karimnagar and Bhopalpatnam Granulite belts, Central India. Gond-wana Research, 7, 501-518.
[22] Mendes, J.C., Medeiros, S.R., McReath, I. and Pinheiro de Campos, C.M. (2005) Cambro-Ordovician magma-tism in SE Brazil: U-Pb and Rb-Sr ages, combined with Sr and Nd isotopic data of charnockitic rocks from the Varzea Alegre Complex. Gondwana Research, 8, 337- 346.
[23] Raith, M., Karmakar, S. and Brown, M. (1997) Ultra- high temperature metamorphism and multi-stage decom-pressional evolution of sapphirine granulites from the Palni Hill Ranges, south India. Journal of Metamorphic Geology, 15, 379-399.
[24] Naha, K., Srinivasan, R. and Jayaram, S. (1993) Struc-tural relations of charnockites of the Archaean Dharwar craton, southern India. Journal of Metamorphic Geology, 11, 889-895.
[25] Newton, R.C. and Hansen, E.C. (1983) The origin of Proterozoic and late Archaean charnockites-evidence from field relations and experimental petrology. Geo-logical Society of America Memorials, 161, 167-178.
[26] Holland, J.G. and Lambart, R.S.J. (1975) The chemistry and origin of the Lewisian gneisses of the Scottish mainland: the Scourie and Inver assemblages and sub crustal accretion. Precambrian Research, 2(2), 161-188.
[27] Kramers, J.D. and Ridley, J.R. (1989) Can Archaean granulites be direct crystallization from a sialic magma layer? Geology, 17(5), 442-445.
[28] Janardhan, A.S., Newton, R.C. and Smith, J.V. (1979) Ancient crustal metamorphism at low pH2O: Charnockite formation at Kabbaldurga, south India. Nature, 278, 511-514.
[29] Janardhan, A.S., Newton, R.C. and Hansen, E.C. (1982) The transformation of amphibolite facies gneiss to char-nockite in southern Karnataka and northern Tamil Nadu, India. Contributions to Mineralogy and Petrology, 79, 130-149.
[30] Janardhan, A.S., Jayananda, M. and Shankara, M.A. (1994) Formation and tectonic evolution of granulites from Biligirirangam and Nilgiri Hills, south India: Geo-chemical and isotopic constraints. Journal of the Geo-logical Society of India, 44, 27-40.
[31] Friend, C.R.L. (1981) Charnockite and granite formation and influx of CO2 at Kabbaldurga. Nature, 294, 550-552.
[32] Hansen, E.C., Newton, R.C. and Janardhan, A.S. (1984) Fluid inclusions in rocks from amphibolite-facies gneiss to charnockite progression in southern Karnataka, India: direct evidence concerning the fluids of granulite meta-morphism. Journal of Metamorphic Geology, 2, 249-264.
[33] Hansen, E.C., Janardhan, A.S., Newton, R.C., Prame, W.K.B. and Kumar, G.R.R. (1987) Arrested charnockite formation in southern India and Sri Lanka. Contributions to Mineralogy and Petrology, 96, 225-244.
[34] Srikantappa, C., Raith, M. and Spiering, B. (1985) Pro-gressive charnockitization of a leptynite-khondalite suite in southern Kerala, India: Evidence for formation of charnockites through a decrease in fluid pressure? Jour-nal of the Geological Society of India, 26, 62-83.
[35] Srikantappa, C., Raith, M. and Touret, J.L.R. (1991) Synmetamorphic, high-density carbonic fluids in the lower crust: Evidence from the Nilgiri granulites, south-ern India. Journal of Petrology, 33(4), 733-760.
[36] Raith, M. Stahle, H.J. and Hoernes, S. (1988) Kab-baldurga-type charnockitization: a local phenomenon in the granulite to amphibolite grade transition zone. Jour-nal of the Geological Society of India, 31, 116-117.
[37] Raith, M., Srikantappa, C., Ashamanjeri, K.G. and Spier-ing, B. (1990) The granulite terrene of the Nilgiri Hills (southern India): Characterization of high-grade meta-morphism. In: Vielzeuf, D. and Vidal, P., ed., Granulites and Crustal Evolution, NATO ASI Series C, Kluwer Academic Publishers, Dordrecht, 311, 339-365.
[38] Yoshida, M. and Santosh, M. (1994) A tectonic perspec-tive of incipient charnockites in East Gondwana. Pre-cambrian Research, 66(1-4), 379-392.
[39] Harley, S.L. and Santosh, M. (1995) Wollastonite at Nu-liyam, Kerala, South India: A reassessment of CO2 infil-tration and charnockite formation at a classic locality. Contributions to Mineralogy and Petrology, 120, 83-94.
[40] Condie, K.C., Bowling, G.P. and Allen, P. (1986) Origin of granites in an Archaean high-grade terrene, southern India. Contributions to Mineralogy and Petrology, 92, 93-103.
[41] Raith, M and Srikantappa, C. (1993) Arrested char-nockite formation at Kottavattam, southern India. Jour-nal of Metamorphic Geology, 11, 815-832.
[42] Santosh, M., Jackson, D.H., Mattey, D.P. and Harris, N.B.W. (1988) Carbon Stable Isotopes of fluid inclusions in the granulites of southern Kerala: Implications for the source of CO2. Journal of the Geological Society of India, 32, 477-493.
[43] Hollister, L.S. (1993) The role of melt in the uplift and exhumation of orogenic belts. Chemical Geology, 108, 31-48.
[44] Buick, I.S. and Holland, T.J.B. (1991) The nature and distribution of fluids during Amphibolite facies meta-morphism, Naxos (Greece). Journal of Metamorphic Ge-ology, 9, 301-314.
[45] Halden, N.M., Bowes, D.R. and Dash, B. (1982) Struc-tural evolution of migmatites in a granulite facies terrene: Precambrian crystalline complex of Angul, Orissa, India. Transactions of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, Earth Science, 73, 109-118.
[46] Paul, D.K., Burman, T.R., McNaughton, N.J., Fletcher, I.R., Potts, R.J., Ramakrishnan, M. and Augustine, P.F. (1990) Archaean-Proterozoic evolution of Indian char-nockites: Isotopic and geochemical evidence from granu-lites of the Eastern Ghats Belt. Journal of Geology, 98, 253-263.
[47] Rajesham, T., Nagarajan, K., Murti, K.S., Shirahata, H. and Yoshida, M. (1994) Incipient charnockitisation in Eastern Ghats terrain of Vizianagram area, Andhra Pradesh. Workshop on Eastern Ghats Mobile Belt, Vishakapatnam, 43.
[48] Bhattacharya, A. and Sen, S.K. (1991) Pressure, tem-perature and fluid regime in selected granulites tracts of the Eastern Ghats of India. Proceedings Seminar on Composition and Evolution of High-Grade Gneiss Ter-rains, IGCP Project 304, Lower Crustal Process, Kandy.
[49] Bhowmik, S.K., Dasgupta, S., Hoernes, S. and Bhatta-charya, P.K. (1995) Extremely high-temperature cal-careous granulites from the Eastern Ghats, India: Evi-dence for isobaric cooling, fluid buffering, and terminal channelized fluid flow. European Journal of Mineralogy, 7, 689-703.
[50] Bhattacharya, S., Deomurari, M.P. and Teixeira, W. (2003) Grenvillian thermal event and remnant char-nockite: Isotopic evidence from the Chilka Lake granu-lite-migmatite suite in the Eastern Ghats belt, India. Pro-ceedings of the Indian Academy of Sciences (Earth and Planetary Science), 111, 391-399.
[51] Harris, N.B.W., Holt, R.W. and Drury, S.A. (1982) Geo-barometry, geothermometry and the Late Archaean geo-therms from the granulite facies terrain in South India. Journal of Geology, 90, 509-527.
[52] Sriramdas, A. and Rao, A.T. (1979) Charnockites of Vishakapatnam, Andhra Pradesh. Journal of the Geo-logical Society of India, 20, 512-517.
[53] Rao, M.V.S. and Rao, V.D. (1988) Chemical constraints on the origin of the charnockites in the Eastern Ghats mobile belt, India. Chemical Geology, 69(1-2), 37-48.
[54] Sheraton, J.W., Black, L.P. and Tindle, A.G. (1992) Petrogenesis of plutonic rocks in a Proterozoic granulite facies terrene-The Bunger Hills, East Antarctica. Chemi-cal Geology, 97, 163-198.
[55] Zhao, J., Ellis, D.J., Kilpatrick, J.A. and McCulloch, M.T. (1997) Geochemical and Sr-Nd isotopic study of char-nockites and related rocks in the northern Prince Charles Mountain, East Antarctica. Precambrian Research, 81, 37-66.
[56] Kar, R., Bhattacharya, S. and Sheraton, J.W. (2003) Hornblende-dehydration melting in mafic rocks and the link between massif-type charnockite and associated granulites, Eastern Ghats Granulite Belt, India. Contribu-tions to Mineralogy and Petrology, 145, 707-729.
[57] Bhattacharya, S., Sen, S.K. and Acharyya, A. (1994) The structural setting of the Chilka Lake granulite-migmatite- anorthosite suite with emphasis on time relation of char-nockites. Precambrian Research, 66, 393-409.
[58] Rickers, K., Mezger, K. and Raith, M. (2001) Evolution of the continental crust in the Proterozoic Eastern Ghats Belt, India and new constraints for Rodinia reconstruc-tion: Implications from Sm-Nd, Rb-Sr and Pb-Pb iso-topes. Precambrian Research, 112, 183-210.
[59] Bhattacharya, S. (2003) Dehydration melting in mafic rocks in the Eastern Ghats Belt, India: Implications for variable composition of charnockitic melt and heteroge-neity of source rocks. Memoirs of the Geological Society of India, 52, 131-144.
[60] Bhattacharya, S. and Kar, R. (2002) High-temperature dehydration melting and decompressive P-T path in a granulite complex from the Eastern Ghats, India. Con-tributions to Mineralogy and Petrology, 143, 175-191.
[61] Sheraton, J.W., Tindle, A.G. and Tingey, R.J. (1996) Geochemistry, origin, and tectonic setting of granitic rocks of the Prince Charles Mountains, Antarctica. Aus-tralian Geological Survey Organisation Journal of Aus-tralian Geology and Geophysics, 16, 345-370.
[62] Hansen, E.C. and Stuk, M. (1993) Orthopyroxene-bear- ing mafic migmatites at Cone Peak, California: Evidence for the formation of migmatitic granulites by anatexis in an open system. Journal of Metamorphic Geology, 11, 291-307.
[63] Rushmer, T. (1991) Partial melting of two amphibolites: Contrasting experimental results under fluid absent con-ditions. Contributions to Mineralogy and Petrology, 107(1), 41-59.
[64] Skjerlie, K.P., Douce, A.E.P. and Johnston, A.D. (1993) Fluid-absent melting of layered crustal protolith: Impli-cations for the generation of anatectic granites. Contribu-tions to Mineralogy and Petrology, 114(3), 365- 378.
[65] Douce, A.E.P. and Beard, J.S. (1995) Dehydration melt-ing of biotite gneiss and quartz amphibolite from 3 to 15 kbar. Journal of Petrology, 36(3), 707-738.
[66] Springer, W. and Seck, H.A. (1997) Partial fusion of basic granulites at 5 to 15 kbar: Implications for the ori-gin of TTG magmas. Contributions to Mineralogy and Petrology, 127(1-2), 30-45.
[67] Bhattacharya, S., Kar, R., Misra, S. and Teixeira, W. (2001) Early Archaean continental crust in the Eastern Ghats granulite belt, India: Isotopic evidence from a charnockite suite. Geological Magazine, 138(5), 609-618.
[68] Harris, N., Ayres, M. and Massey, J. (1995) Geochemis-try of granitic melts produced during the incongruent melting of muscovite: Implications for the extraction of Himalayan leucogranite magmas. Journal of Geophysical Research, 100(8), 15767-15777.
[69] Brown, M., Rushmer, T. and Sawyer, E.W. (1995) Mechanisms and consequences of melt segregation from crustal protoliths. Journal of Geophysical Research, 100(8), 15551-15563.
[70] Vigneresse, J.L., Barbey, P. and Cuney, M. (1996) Rheological transition during partial melting and crystal-lization with application to felsic magma segregation and transfer. Journal of Petrology, 37(6), 1579-1600.
[71] Brown, M. and Rushmer, T. (1997) The role of deforma-tion in the movement of granitic melt: Views from the laboratory and the field. In: Holness, M.B., ed., Defor-mation-Enhanced Fluid Transport in the Earth’s Crust and Mantle, the Mineralogical Society Series, 8, 111-144.

Copyright © 2024 by authors and Scientific Research Publishing Inc.

Creative Commons License

This work and the related PDF file are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.