The age and origin of the quartz-amphibole-pyroxene (qap) gneiss from the island of Akilia, southern West Greenland, has been the subject of intense debate since the light C-isotope composition of graphite inclusions in apatite was interpreted to indicate the presence of Earth’s earliest biological activity. Although this claim for biogenic relicts has been vigourously challenged, the possibility that the rocks might represent some of the Earth’s earliest water lain sediments and, hence, a suitable repository for life, remains an open question. While some workers have suggested that the entire sequence represents an originally mafic-ultramafic igneous precursor subsequently modified by metasomatism, quartz injection, high-grade metamorphism and extreme ductile deformation, others maintain that at least a small part of the sequence retains geochemical characteristics indicative of a chemical sedimentary origin. Fractionated Fe isotopes with d56Fe values similar to those observed in Isua BIF reported from high-SiO2 units of qap have been used to support a chemical sedimentary protolith for the qap unit. Here we present new Fe isotope data from all lithological variants in the quartz-amphibole-pyroxene gneiss on Akilia, including layers of undisputed ultramafic igneous origin. Since the latter require introdution of fractionated Fe into at least part of the qap unit, we argue that Fe isotopes must therefore be treated with considerable caution when used to infer BIF for part or all of the qap protolith.
2015. Vol. 15, 816-824 p.