Abstract

The metamorphic history of the volcanic sequence of the Metchosin Igneous Complex (MIC), an Eocene ophiolite exposed on southern Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada, was studied to examine the roles of seafloor and accretion-related processes. Metamorphic facies in the volcanics vary from prehnite–actinolite assemblages in the east to greenschist and amphibolite assemblages in the west. In the east, metamorphism is typified by chlorite ± prehnite ± epidote ± actinolite assemblages that fill vesicles and replace interstitial material; plagioclase is variably albitized, and clinopyroxene is relatively fresh. In the west, the common groundmass assemblage is amphibole + epidote ± chlorite. These assemblages and chlorite geothermometry show a regional east–west gradient of ∼5–10 °C/km that is oblique to the volcanic stratigraphy. The regional metamorphic facies distribution for the MIC volcanics is not consistent with seafloor hydrothermal metamorphism documented for ocean crust from mid-ocean ridges, ocean islands, or island arcs. We speculate that underthrusting of the MIC beneath the Pacific Rim Terrane led to the regional metamorphism of the MIC, and that the change in metamorphic grade from east to west results from regional tilting of the complex, perhaps by orographic effects, during or after accretion.

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