Integration of phase equilibria modelling and garnet Sm-Nd chronology for construction of P-T-t paths: examples from the Cordilleran Coast Plutonic Complex, USA
H. H. Stowell, D. K. Tinkham, 2003. "Integration of phase equilibria modelling and garnet Sm-Nd chronology for construction of P-T-t paths: examples from the Cordilleran Coast Plutonic Complex, USA", Geochronology: Linking the Isotopic Record with Petrology and Textures, D. Vance, W. Müller, I. M. Villa
Download citation file:
Integration of petrographic observations, mineral chemistry, garnet Sm-Nd isochrons, and MnNaCaKFMASH pseudosection phase equilibria models constructed with THERMOCALC provides quantitative metamorphic pressure-temperature-time (P-T-t) paths which allow determination of assemblage/reaction history for pelites. Examples are presented for the Cretaceous to Tertiary magmatic arc of the North American Coast Plutonic Complex. Metamorphism in the western Coast Plutonic Complex of southeastern Alaska and in the North Cascades of Washington resulted from at least three widespread events from > 100 Ma to c. 60 Ma, and in both areas partly resulted from crustal thickening, evidenced by local occurrences of kyanite after andalusite. Pressure-temperature pseudosections constructed from bulk rock compositions and the intersection of garnet core composition isopleths provide estimates for the pressure and temperature of garnet core growth. Intersections of these isopleths indicate garnet growth 18 to 85 °C above the predicted garnet-in reaction temperatures. Rim and near-rim garnet compositions and matrix mineral chemistry provide estimates for near-peak metamorphic conditions. Finite pressure-temperature-time paths of garnet zone metamorphism were determined from the combined core growth and pressure-temperature conditions determined from near-rim garnet and matrix mineral compositions.
The western Coast Plutonic Complex near the Stikine River, southeastern Alaska, displays a complex pattern of regional metamorphism overprinted by contact metamorphic aureoles. Many of the c. 90 Ma aureoles contain andalusite, andalusite plus sillimanite, or andalusite plus kyanite with complex replacement textures. A pseudosection constructed for a contact metamorphic rock on Kadin Island (95GL11c), predicts that garnet grew c. 555 ± 10 °C and 4.8 ± 0.7 kbar, above the garnet-in line and the aluminium silicate triple-point pressure. These results suggest that andalusite in samples from this aureole likely grew prior to garnet and that the pressure may have increased by ≤ 1 kbar during metamorphism. The southern part of the North Cascades in Washington also contain complex aluminium silicate replacement textures with early andalusite and later kyanite and sillimanite. A sample (96NC67), collected near the andalusite-bearing aureole of the Mt Stuart batholith, contains sillimanite and c. 10 mm garnet crystals containing staurolite inclusions in their cores. Temperatures estimated from the garnet core of this sample are within the pseudosection staurolite stability field, compatible with initial garnet growth significantly above the garnetin line. The garnet rim thermometry estimate of c. 668 ± 59 °C for this sample is c. 85 °C higher than the core growth temperature. The calculated P-T-t path provides important information for interpreting regional and contact metamorphism. An extensive region NE of the Mt Stuart batholith in the North Cascades underwent a significant pressure increase; however, the timing and nature of medium- to high-pressure metamorphism is controversial. Quantitative P-T-t paths constructed for garnet growth along the NE margin of the batholith indicate that 87-85 Ma garnet growth was younger than the nearby Mt Stuart batholith (93.5 ± 1.4 Ma, U-Pb zircon). Garnet core and rim segments are isochronous indicating a short interval for garnet growth. P-T-t paths indicate that garnet growth occurred in the sillimanite stability field during a maximum pressure increase of 1 to 2 kbar, after rocks passed through the andalusite stability field (Mt Stuart contact metamorphism).
Careful sampling, hand-picking, acid leaching, and isotopic analysis of garnet provide geologically consistent ages with uncertainties of ≤ 1.0 Ma. Thermodynamic modelling in the MnNaCaKFMASH system provide reasonable P-T predictions for pelite mineral stability that can be integrated with isotope ages to provide quantitative P-T-t paths. The P-T-t paths developed for both regional and contact metamorphic rocks allow critical evaluation of tectonic models and of interpretations for mineral textures.
Figures & Tables
Isotope geochemistry has produced many technical developments in the past decade or so that have revolutionized the potential information available on the tectonics of metamorphic belts from geochronology. These include the ability to date minerals and rocks on small spatial scales, scales that at last approach those from which other types of information — structural and petrological — are obtained. However, interpreting the new data, and their integration with the other datasets available, is not straightforward and requires careful chemical and textural observations that go hand-inhand with the geochronology. The increasing realization of the importance of this approach has led to a number of symposia at international conferences devoted to this topic in recent years. The set of papers in this book emanates from one such symposium and describes recent progress in integrating this new information with other datasets from metamorphic petrology on a mineral and sub-mineral scale.