S-type granites have properties that are a result of their derivation from sedimentary source rocks. Slightly more than half of the granites exposed in the Lachlan Fold Belt of southeastern Australia are of this type. These S-type rocks occur in all environments ranging from an association with migmatites and high grade regional metamorphic rocks, through an occurrence as large batholiths, to those occurring as related volcanic rocks. The association with high grade metamorphic rocks is uncommon. Most of the S-type granites were derived from deeper parts of the crust and emplaced at higher levels; hence their study provides insights into the nature of that deeper crust. Only source rocks that contain enough of the granite-forming elements (Si, Al, Na and K) to provide substantial quantities of melt can produce magmas and there is therefore a fertile window in the composition of these sedimentary rocks corresponding to feldspathic greywacke, from which granite magmas may be formed.
In this paper, three contrasting S-type granite suites of the Lachlan Fold Belt are discussed. Firstly, the Cooma Granodiorite occurs within a regional metamorphic complex and is associated with migmatites. It has isotopic and chemical features matching those of the widespread Ordovician sediments that occur in the fold belt. Secondly, the S-type granites of the Bullenbalong Suite are found as voluminous contact-aureole and subvolcanic granites, with volcanic equivalents. These granites are all cordierite-bearing and have low Na2O, CaO and Sr, high Ni, strongly negative εNd and high 87Sr/86Sr, all indicative of S-type character. However, the values of these parameters are not as extreme as for the Cooma Granodiorite. Evidence is discussed to show that these granites were derived from a less mature, unexposed, deeper and older sedimentary source. Other hypotheses such as basalt mixing are discussed and can be ruled out. The Strathbogie Suite granites are more felsic but all are cordierite-bearing and have chemical and other features indicative of an immature sedimentary source. They are closely associated with cordierite-bearing volcanic rocks. The more felsic nature of the suite results in part from crystal fractionation. It is suggested that the magma may have entered this “crystal fractionation” stage of evolution because it was a slightly higher temperature magma produced from an even less mature sediment than the Bullenbalong Suite. The production of these S-type magmas is discussed in terms of vapour-absent melting of metagreywackes involving both muscovite and biotite. The production of a magma in this way is consistent with the low H2O contents and geological setting of S-type granites and volcanic rocks in the Lachlan Fold Belt.